Am I too skinny?

Being told you’re too skinny is just as soul destroying as being told you’re fat. Trust me.

Although I have now accepted that I’m slightly underweight and will probably remain this way for at least a few more years, due to my fast metabolism, I did at one time feel like there was something wrong with me for being so skinny. Before I got married I was constantly told I’m too skinny, so skinny that my wedding dress won’t look nice on me and that my husband won’t find me attractive. People told me I looked anorexic even though I wasn’t. It made me feel quite insecure about my body, I started to believe what people told me. I know I shouldn’t have but when your constantly told something it does affect you. After I got married it took some time for me to accept that my husband thinks I’m perfectly fine the way I am. Alhamdulillah for my husband, when I told him how I felt he told me that’s ridiculous and made me feel like I’m the prettiest girl in the world (to him anyways). Just like we wouldn’t say to someone you’re so fat your husband won’t think your pretty, we also shouldn’t say it to someone who is skinny. 
I’ve come to realise that no matter what size you are you will always be the wrong size. There’s no winning. So I learnt to accept it and be happy with the size that I am. Yes I know I am slightly underweight but my doctors aren’t concerned so there really is no problem. If people spent less time worrying about other peoples dress size and more time on themselves the world would be a much happier place. I mean how is my dress size going to affect anyone else’s lives? Now I know some people are genuinely concerned but then you need to be tactful in the way you handle the situation. Yes some people need to lose weight for health reasons and yes some people may have an eating disorder causing them to be severely underweight but is saying you’re too fat or you’re so skinny that you look ugly going to help? Instead how about you focus on them and their wellbeing rather than their image? Why do girls become anorexic? Because society says you need to be super skinny to look pretty. Well how about the society focuses on more important things rather than a dress size. Seriously!
And lastly I want to remind myself and anyone out there who’s been told they’re not the “right” dress size that Allah has created you perfectly. You are exactly how Allah intended you to be and and you are perfectly unique and special to Allah, no matter what anyone else says. Allah created every single person differently, right down to our fingerprint so then why would we want to look like someone else? And remember that there is wisdom in why you were created the way you were and it is exactly the way Allah intended you to look. And what could be more perfect than the way Allah wanted you to look?

We have certainly created man in the best of stature. Quran 95:4

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Can we come over?

O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded (ie. advised).

And if you do not find anyone therein, do not enter them until permission has been given to you. And if it is said to you, “go back” then go back; it is purer for you. And God is knowing of what you do.
Quran (24:27-28)

Allah is very clear as to what we should do before entering another persons home yet today the majority of people today have forgotten these etiquettes. Where they are placed in Surah Nur shows us how important these etiquettes before these ayah are the ayah about slandering chaste women and after are the ayah about lowering your gaze. That alone should tell us that these etiquettes are related to guarding chastity and not spreading fitna. Then why is it today people take this so lightly? People will turn up to a persons house unannounced and the host will have no choice but to allow them in. Even within the home people do not feel it is important to knock before entering and fling doors open as they please. When we read these ayahs we learn that this is not acceptable to Allah. So it’s really important we learn, understand and implement these etiquettes in our lives. 

The prophet (saw) said: If any one of you ask permission to enter thrice, and permission is not given, then he should return. (Bukhari)

This means that you should knock three times and if the person does not give you permission to come in then you should leave. Even the ayah states that if the person asks you not to come now then it should be respected and you should not insist that you have to come at that time. This is made even easier for us now as we have technology that enables us to ask even before we leave our home. So we should be mindful that the other person may be busy or not in a position to host guests at that time so we should ask politely and not insist if they ask us not to come at that time.  If it is said to us that, this time is not appropriate then we should not get upset but this is what happens nowadays. People feel offended if they are told that this time is not appropriate for the other person feeling as though it is their right to come whenever they want. This attitude needs to stop. This type of behaviour is described in the Tafsir of ibn Kathir as the behaviour of the people in the time of jahilliyyah. So we need to ensure we are not imitating the behaviour done at the time of jahilliyyah. 

The prophet (saw) said: If a person looks into your house without permission, and you throw a stone at him and it puts his eye out, there is no blame on you. (Muslim)

This Hadith should give us an indication of just how important it is not to invade someone’s privacy of their home. So if even looking into someone’s home is discouraged then how much more important must it be to seek permission before coming into someone’s home. Even husbands are encouraged by the prophet (saw) to announce before coming into their home. This means even within family we should knock before entering even within the house as chastity and privacy needs to be protected. It is also narrated in Muslim that it is not sufficient to say “I” or “me” when you are asked who it is when seeking permission. The prophet (saw) disliked this and taught us that you must be specific when answering. 
When the etiquettes are so clear then why do we fail to follow them? We need to spend more time learning what Allah and the prophet (saw) has taught us and do our best to implement it. In doing this we will save ourselves from many social issues and guard our chastity and privacy and inshaAllah it will cause people to be closer to one another.

Oh my gosh! Did you hear about….

Can you imagine eating dead flesh? Well that’s basically what we do when we backbite or gossip or slander someone.

O you who have believed, avoid much (negative) assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; Indeed Allah is accepting of repentance and merciful. Quran (49:12)
Backbiting, slander, gossipping, spreading rumours, are words that evoke such strong emotions in me, because I have been at the receiving end of this,especially for the last six months, and I have never experienced anything as awful as this. I don’t understand what people get out of gossipping or backbiting about someone. Do people think it’s actually acceptable and it won’t cause any issues? All this does is ruin relationships and tears families and friends apart. But most importantly it is a major sin in Islam and one of the diseases of the heart.
Prophet Muhammad  said :”Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “God and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of God  said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.”(Muslim)
So whether you think that it’s true or not doesn’t justify you saying something negative about a person. It is so important for us to ensure we don’t gossip or slander someone as it is a major sin and the punishment for this sin is severe subhanAllah.
The prophet (saw) said: “when I was taken up to heaven I passed by people who had nails of copper and were scratching their faces and their chests.” I said: “Who are these people, Jibreel?” He replied: “They are those who used to backbite and who violated people’s honour.” (Sunna Abu Dawud)

The Prophet (saw) asked one group of his companions, “Do you know who the bankrupt person is?” They said, “A bankrupt person amongst us is the one who has neither money nor property.” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The bankrupt person of my nation is he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayer and fast and giving great amounts in charity. And at the same time, he would come having abused this one, and slandered that one, and consumed the wealth of the other unlawfully, and shed the blood of yet others and having beaten others. Then any person whom he has wronged will be given from his good deeds on that Day. And if his good deeds are exhausted until he clears the account concerning all of the people he has oppressed, the sins of those people whom he has wronged will be thrown unto his account and after that, he will be thrown into the hellfire.” (Muslim)
So not only will we be punished like this for slandering someone but we will come on the day of judgement thinking we have many good deeds like fasting, praying, giving sadaqah etc. but it will be taken from us and given to those whom we slandered and gossiped about. Then if we run out of good deeds to give we shall then have to take their sins to compensate for violating their rights. SubhanAllah! This alone should be enough for us to never backbite again. If it our friend why would we want to backbite about them? And if it is a foe then why would we want to give him our good deeds?
Even indirectly saying something is still backbiting, it does not matter whether you explicitly mention which person you are talking about. Even gestures are unacceptable. This is evident In the story of when Aisha (ra) motioned with her hand that a woman was short. The prophet (saw) immediately chastised her saying, you have backbitten!
We are always encouraged in Islam to have the highest of moral character and we are taught how we can achieve complete faith. One of the things that prevents us from truly having emaan in our hearts is if we backbite.
The prophet (saw) said: “A Muslim is one who avoids harming another Muslim with his tongue or hands.” (Bukhari)
The prophet (saw) said: “O my people, who believe with their tongue, but belief has not entered their hearts, do not backbite another Muslim, and do not search for their faults, for if anyone searches for their faults, Allah will search for his fault, and if Allah searches for the fault of anyone, he disgraces them in his house.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
These show that slander, backbite, gossip can decrease your emaan. Instead of doing things that decrease your emaan, we should focus on increasing in doing what increases our emaan. Focus on having beneficial conversations and always keep in mind that just like you would not like it if someone spoke badly of you, neither would the person you are speaking badly of. If we would not like it for ourselves then why do it to someone else? And also keep in mind that if you hear someone gossiping or slandering someone you should defend the person that is being slandered and make excuses for them. It is your job as a Muslim to defend another Muslims honour.
Anyone who believes in Allah and the last day, should speak good words or remain silent. (an-Nawawi)

A Blessing in Disguise 

“Good health is a crown only the sick can see” Imam Shafi’i

Ever since I can remember I have almost always had some sort of illness, whether it’s a cold, chest infection, anaemia or more recently a back problem. I am ill so often that I sometimes forget what it feels like to be fit and healthy. This has come with its many challenges, I’ve had to take time off school and when I was at university it became even harder. Trying to study when you’re ill is no easy job, along with the long hours of commuting to university and trying to help out at home, well, that can totally drain you by the end of the day. You just feel like you have no energy to do anything. 
During my final year of university, I truly understood what it meant to be healthy. During that summer I had been ill, having recurring chest infections which lasted about 4months but the effects as a result of these infections continued well into the new year. I didn’t start feeling like myself again until about 8/9 months later. It was at that time I was also diagnosed with having prolapsed discs, something which will affect me for the rest of my life. During the long months of illness I had to take time off university and move a placement to the summer as I couldn’t work in the hospital with chest infections. Walking up the stairs was like running a marathon and my whole body ached. This along with my ongoing back problem really made me feel useless. I became really sad and withdrawn from my family and friends. But it was during this time that I truly understood the word “Alhamdulillah”. When I was unable to do even the simplest things I then realised just how blessed I was. I was finally able to improve the quality of my salah, something I had been struggling with for a while. I felt truly connected to Allah. It was my illness that brought me closer to Allah in a way that no success in my life ever could. Yes, at first when I became ill I couldn’t function like normal it made me very upset and frustrated. I was irritable and had very little tolerance for anything. I didn’t want to speak to anyone and felt like I was worthless. But when I finally realised that if I continued like this I would become very depressed and it would make me worse not better I finally started to pull myself out of this downward spiral. 
Instead of lying in bed doing nothing or just watching some TV I changed that with reading, making dhikr and watching lectures. I would do my absolute best to pray all 5 salah and read the Quran with translation. I attended courses at my local masjid which gave me weekly imaan boosts. 
These things helped me so much during my illness I wasn’t so angry anymore but the most important thing that truly helped me was that I just accepted that whatever had happened to me was because Allah knew that this was best for me. Once I accepted this I was actually able to do so much more than I expected. I still am limited to what I can do but comparing myself to when I was just angry and irritable I am able to do a lot more in my day now. There are still times when I find it harder to cope with my illness and I feel frustrated and irritable but I don’t allow it to consume me and those moments do pass. 
I know that there are so many people who are suffering from illnesses many much worse than mine but I just wanted to share my experience because I know how difficult it can be. When you are ill it is easy to just give up and feel helpless but we should remember that this was decreed for us for a reason. Allah always knows what is best for us and He is the best of planners. 
Remembering these hadiths and ayahs always helped me to get through the times when I felt down:
  • “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?” (Qur’an, 29:2) 
  • “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Quran, 2:286).
  • The Prophet (saw) said: “There is no calamity that befalls a Muslim but Allah expiates (sin) thereby, even a thorn that pricks him.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 5640; Muslim, 2572.
  • “They plan and Allah plans and Allah is the best of planners” (Quran 8:30)
  • “Verily, with hardship there is ease” (Quran 94:6)
When we really reflect on what they are telling us we realise a few things. That every single one of us will be tested in some way and that it may be that Allah is testing us through this illness. So just like we would work hard for our school exams we should strive to not only pass but excel in this test. Allah tells us that whatever test he sends our way we will be able to bear it, even if we think at that time we cannot make it through this difficulty. So with the right mindset and we will get through it no matter how hard things may become. The hadith of the Prophet (saw) always makes me feel better as I think about how many sins I may have committed knowingly and unknowingly and that through my illness it is being wiped away. This shows just how merciful Allah is, subhanallah. This last ayah I share with you is truly profound, many people think, just as I did, that this means we will have times of hardship followed by times of ease. But I recently read an article which helped me see this ayah in a new perspective. It says WITH hardship there is ease so even in times of hardship there will be ease as well. The two come together not one after the other. Now thinking about it this way gives a person so much more hope. This time may be hardship but it won’t be all bad. You will have plenty of good moments even if you are ill for a long time. Something I only really noticed after really understanding this ayah.
I still have bad days when I feel upset or frustrated about how much my health condition limits me in things I want to do, this feeling is natural but it shouldn’t consume me and I know that Allah is the best of planners and whatever He has planned for me through his infinite wisdom will be so much better for me than anything that i could imagine, I just need to trust Allah. I know there is a reason for Him giving me this health condition. 
I truly hope that what I have shared with you will be of benefit to you and that it may help you through your illness or hardship you are going through.

Mind your own business 

Don’t you just hate it when people are so nosey they just have to know everything. From what you are doing to where you are going to what you plan to cook, to private life decisions like when are you going to have children! I just don’t get it, I’m so busy I don’t have time to worry about knowing every detail about what others are doing and I don’t understand how they have so much free time to worry about these things!

When we invade peoples privacy and insist on knowing every detail of their life we are doing nothing but damaging our relationship with that person. People start to avoid those who keep asking private and personal questions as it’s so difficult to stop them from asking questions. By doing this you will do nothing but cause family and friends to distance themselves from you. We need to learn how to mind our own business and not interfere in other people’s lives. Contrary to popular belief you do NOT have the right to know every detail of other people’s lives whether they are family or friends. If they choose not to tell you then you should respect their privacy. 
From the sunnah of the prophet (saw) we can learn so much about how he lived, good etiquettes and manners and there is never a time when he would be nosey and try to find out personal details. He in fact taught us to mind our own business.

He (saw) said: “part of the perfection of a believers faith is his leaving alone that which does not concern him”
Tirmidhi 

There are plenty of things we can discuss in social situations aside from a persons private business. And if a personal matter is discussed then it should be kept a secret and you should never then go and discuss this with a third person. Once we start delving into people’s personal matters this can lead to a lot of other sins such as gossiping, backbiting, slander etc. we should instead seek to discuss something beneficial or keep things general and lighthearted. This will help to keep good relations with those in your life inshaAllah

What can you do in one minute?

This is something I found a few years ago and I’ve found it very beneficial especially as I’m so busy. Things that have huge reward but take only a minute to do.

  1. In one minute you can recite Soorat al-Faatihah 3 times, reciting rapidly and silently. Some scholars said that the reward for reading al-Faatihah is more than 600 hasanahs, so if you read it 3 times you will, by the permission of Allaah, gain more than 1800 hasanahs – all of that in one minute. 
2. In one minute you can recite Soorat al-Ikhlaas (Qul Huwa Allaahu Ahad) 20 times, reciting rapidly and silently. Reciting it once is equivalent to one-third of the Qur’aan. If you read it 20 times it is equivalent to reading the Qur’aan 7 times. If you read it 20 times in one minute each day, you will have read it 600 times in one month, and 7200 times in one year, which will be equal in reward to reading the Qur’aan 2400 times. 
3. You can read one page of the Book of Allaah in one minute. 
4. You can memorize a short aayah of the Book of Allaah in one minute. 
5. In one minute you can say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer (There is no god except Allaah alone with no partner; to Him be dominion and praise, and He is Able to do all things) – 20 times. The reward for saying this is like freeing 8 slaves for the sake of Allaah from among the sons of Ismaa’eel. 
6. In one minute you can say Subhaan Allaahi wa bi hamdihi (Glory and praise be to Allaah) 100 times. Whoever says that in one day will be forgiven for his sins even if they are like the foam of the sea. 
7. In one minute you can say Subhaan Allaahi wa bi hamdihi Subhaan Allaah il-‘Azeem (Glory and praise be to Allaah, glory be to Allaah the Almighty) 50 times. These are two phrases which are light on the lips, heavy in the balance and beloved to the Most Merciful, as was narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim. 
8. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When I say ‘Subhaan Allaah, wa’l-hamdu Lillah, wa laa ilaah ill-Allaah, wa Allaahu akbar (Glory be to Allaah, praise be to Allaah, there is no god except Allaah, and Allaah is Most Great)’, this is more beloved to me than all that the sun rises upon.” (Narrated by Muslim). In one minute, you can say all of these words more than 18 times. These words are the most beloved words to Allaah, the best of words, and they weigh heavily in the balance of good deeds, as was narrated in the saheeh ahaadeeth. 
9. In one minute you can say, Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah (there is no strength and no power except with Allaah) more than 40 times. This is one of the treasures of Paradise, as was narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim. They are a means of putting up with difficulties and of aiming to achieve great things. 
10. In one minute you can say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah approximately 50 times. This is the greatest word, for it is the word of Tawheed, the good word, the word that stands firm. If these are the last words of a person, he will enter Paradise, and there are other reports which indicate how great these words are. 
11. In one minute you can say Subhaan Allaah wa bi hamdih, ‘adada khalqihi, wa ridaa nafsihi, wazinata ‘arshihi, wa midaada kalimaatihi (Glory and praise be to Allaah, as much as the number of His creation, as much as pleases Him, as much as the weight of His Throne and as much as the ink of His words) more than 15 times. This words bring many more times the reward for other forms of tasbeeh and dhikr, as was reported in saheeh ahaadeeth from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). 
12. In one minute you can seek the forgiveness of Allaah more than 100 times by saying “Astaghfir-Allaah (I seek the forgiveness of Allaah). The virtues of seeking forgiveness are no secret, for it is the means of attaining forgiveness and entering Paradise, and it is the means of being granted a good life, increasing one’s strength, warding off disasters, making things easier, bringing rain and increasing one’s wealth and children. 
13. You can say a few brief and concise words in one minute, and Allaah may bring about some good through them that you could never imagine. 
14. In one minute you can send blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 50 times by saying Sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (May Allaah bless him and grant him peace). In return Allaah will send blessings upon you 500 hundred times because one blessing brings ten like it. 
15. In one minute you can motivate your heart to give thanks to Allaah, to love Him, to fear Him, to put hope in Him, to long for Him, and thus travel through the stages of ‘uboodiyyah (total enslavement to Allaah). You could do this when you are lying on your bed or walking in the street. 
16. In one minute you can read more than two pages of a useful book that is easy to understand. 
17. In one minute you can uphold the ties of kinship by calling a relative on the phone. 
18. You can raise your hands and recite any du’aa’ you wish from the books of du’aa’, in one minute. 
19. You can say salaams to and shake hands with a number of people in one minute. 
20. You can forbid an evil action in one minute. 
21. You can enjoin something good in one minute. 
22. You can offer sincere advice to a brother in one minute. 

For the sake of Allah 

If you’re willing to go against your culture and its acceptable in Islam then its not going to be easy. It never was but you embarked on this journey so be prepared to be strong. Don’t expect them to accept it right away with kindness, persistance and good character they may just come along but it will take time – that’s just the way it is. And when they do you have a responsibility to show them they did the right thing, failing is not an option as others are hoping you pass.
When we have a choice between doing something in our culture or following the commands of Allah, in theory it seems it will be an easy choice, however in reality it may not be so easy. Whether we accept it or not but the culture of the place we live in and of our family background has big influences on our life, from the way we view life to the way we dress and the type of food we eat. So when we reach a point where the culture clashes with our religion it may not be such an easy choice to make. We will have influences from our family, friends and the society around us and they can lead us towards either option. 
For example, in some cultures it is okay for a woman to not wear hijab in front of her non-mahrem male relatives but Islam says that she must cover in front of them. What do you do in these situations? If you insist on keeping your hijab on then your relatives may become upset that you are implying that they have bad intentions towards you. Or that they don’t consider it necessary as you are family and keep insisting you take it off to be more comfortable. You may also want to take off your scarf as it might be hot and stuffy in the room or that no one else is wearing there’s. On the other hand you know that in taking it off you are disobeying Allah. 
Another situation may be that you are invited to a party but it will be mixed and there will be music and dancing. It may be that all your family and friends are going and you will feel left out. It may be work related and you feel you must go as all your colleagues are going. You do not want to upset the person who invited you by not going to the party. You also want to go because you know everyone will have a good time. On the other hand you know that this type of environment is not acceptable be in. These situations can be very difficult to deal with especially if you are young. But when I am faced with a situation where I have to choose between my culture and Islam I always remember

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever gives up something for the sake of Allah, Allah will compensate him with something better than it.” Ahmed

I know for sure that if I choose to do what Allah has commanded over what my desires are telling me then Allah will surely reward me for it. As long as my intentions are to please Allah. This reward can come in the dunya or the aakhirah. People may cause problems for you initially but if you stay firm then they will eventually accept it. Be firm with people but never rude, speak kindly and have good manners and ensure you explain to them why you are doing what you are doing, and they are more likely to accept your decision. Everyone now knows that if there are male relatives I will have my hijab on, they even tell me in advance if someone is about to walk in the room giving me time to put my hijab on if necessary. Allah does makes things easier for you but you have to be strong and remain firm on your belief. There is always difficulties initially as people are always resistant to change, especially from culture that dates back to their parents and grandparents.
To help us make the right decision and stay firm on it we need to seek help from Allah, we need to make dua and ensure we have the correct intention. We also need to study our religion and learn what it actually teaches us, a big problem is that a lot of the time we are unable to distinguish between culture and religion. The more we actually know about our religion the easier it is to stay firm on its belief. We may from time to time give in to that culture pressure but don’t despair, we are human and we make mistakes. We should turn back to Allah and seek forgiveness and surely Allah will forgive us if it is sincere.
Whenever we do something that clashes against the norm always remind yourself that whatever you give up for the sake of Allah, Allah will most definitely replace it with something better than you could even imagine. InshaAllah