My Anchor

myachorThere are days where the world feels like it is crushing me. I feel extremely exhausted and I just want to give up. Sometimes tears form in my eyes because of all the pressure and burden in my life. I constantly look for ways to relieve this stress in my life. Some people recommend drugs. Some recommend alcohol. Some recommend music. I know none of these things have a resolution for my problems, instead, they’ll just cause more problems. Gaining a form of addiction, a high, an escape that leads to more sadness and becomes unforgiving and relentless. It destroys your life in every possible way, so I avoid every type of haram (forbidden) Allah has commanded. There is salah and it’s something irreplaceable. It relieves this tension and lets everything you feel on your shoulders, pushing you down into sujood (prostration) to your creator. Alhamdulilah, it could never be replaced. It’ll always be number one. Some people will eat their misery away, indulging in their favourite foods. Ice cream, cakes, cookies but me…..
 
I cloud my thoughts with only one thing. I await the journey everyday, as I lace up my sneakers, thinking of what to do today once I enter the arena. This arena is not for everyone. People come and people go. This for those who have heart. Who are disciplined. Who are able to be consistent and push their limits. They look at themselves in the mirror and constantly want to improve. Some have “new years resolutions” that become unresolved, while others don’t have a resolution and just embed it into their lifestyle. It helps them breathe. Break the chains of the mind. Give them one more chance to improve themselves. It builds character and an unforgettable experience that only those that can bare the patience of it all. There is no end result because it becomes a part of you. Everyday, you enter the arena, you strive to improve. You sculpt and build a masterpiece that only your genetics allow. As I enter this arena, everything in my life becomes forgotten. It becomes an after thought. It is as though, nothing exists anymore. My mind becomes set on what I’m about to engage in. I block everything and everyone out. It’s just myself and this iron. Sometimes you’ll conquer it and sometimes it’ll conquer you. It can be unforgiving at times, making you doubt yourself but you want to prove yourself and prove to it, you’re the boss.
 
The gym, these weights, this iron, is my anchor. It is my drug. These weights, make me stronger but more so, allow me to escape from the harsh realities of this world. It allows me to free myself of the negative people and the thoughts that could bury me. It allows me to let go of these tears and anger built up from the burdens in my life. The anger is no longer suppressed. I free myself. Just as I free myself from the shaytaan 5 times a day praying salah, I free myself from negativity by lifting my pain away. It is my anchor, my drug. My pain reliever. I turn it to it several times a week, almost everyday. I come out pumped full of blood, goto sleep and wake up in pain. My body hates it but I love it. It’s a love and hate relationship but the love is more. They say, Im wasting my time but I say, I wouldn’t waste my time anywhere else. I love these weights and people don’t understand how much it means to me but I keep going. I’ll never stop building myself. Breaking free in a halal (permissible) way. No drugs. Just weights, sweat, pain and fibres ripping and stretching. This is where I come to escape. This is my anchor.
 
What’s yours?
(Inspired by: Dwayne Johnson)
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Life Lessons II

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I’d rather someone show me they love me through their actions, instead of the things they buy for me. I cannot be bought.

If you don’t pray your salah, your life will only become more difficult. In order to ease the pain and for your worries to go away, make your sujoods long, ask Allah SWT, give sadaqa and be patient. Allah is testing you because He loves you, so don’t become impatient with the answers for your duaas.

Teach people to value themselves instead of the value of things. Encourage them and motivate them to see the potential in themselves.

A beautiful face cannot make up for an ugly personality. If your personality is rotten, ugly, then you overall are ugly because it is your personality that will improve, while your face will not.

A lot of friends aren’t important nor are they better for you. Loyalty and truth is what matters in the end. You may have a lot but they only keep you company, never being there when you need. They are not your friends.

Lessons in your life should improve your character, mindset and only allow you to be the strongest version of yourself. If they do not, then you are not learning from the lessons in your life.

You can have everything in your life, you can make people laugh but if you are not happy, then you are a candle that lights others but extinguishes itself.

“Only in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” [Surah Ar-Ra’d]

Money is not everything nor having the best of everything. If you are happy with yourself and what you have, you’ll be the happiest person ever.

People don’t know your battles, won’t fight battles but are quick to judge your life and your efforts.

Everything is the will of Allah. No matter how bad you want something, no matter how much duaa you make, if it is not your time, it is not your time and Allah will only give it to you, when that time has arrived. This does not mean you stop making duaa but you are persistent with your actions and daily with your good deeds and your salah.

Be as you would like your future spouse to be, don’t expect them to be something you are not.

And lastly, be happy no matter what is going on in your life. Someone has it worse than you but can still wake up and appreciate what they have and smile, you can too.

The Coolness Of The Morning

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I would like to share something personal with you all. I’ve been dwelling on this topic for a few days now and I’ve been going back and forth with it in my head. I didn’t want to write it because, I don’t want to seem as if I am a better Muslim than you all or I am showing off but I am writing this because after that morning, something inside of me has told me to write about my experience. Maybe it is the shaytaan that has prevented me from penning, well penning is not the right word but typing my feelings out. It’s still heavy on my chest and on my mind, kind of weighing me down and has only made me want to share my feelings or to say, experience. Here it is…..

I cried like a baby a few days ago. You are probably thinking, that’s it? You cried? You do know, just because you are a man doesn’t mean you can’t cry. Yes, I know but that’s not the reason why Im sharing this with you. Let me tell you…

I had finished my suhoor a few days ago and I was waiting for fajr salah to begin with the congregation at my local masjid. I made my way there through the coolness of the morning, walking quickly hoping I don’t miss a unit of prayer. Joining a brother of African American descent beside me, made me feel great as a Muslim because it shows unity and Islam is not only a religion for Arabs but Islam is a religion for all of mankind. Through out the salah, I kept saying to myself for some odd reason, his recitation is very beautiful how come I won’t cry? But every time he recited certain words which I understood, I got goosebumps and it would instantly hit me.

He had begun the second unit of prayer and Im still standing there, listening to the beautiful recitation of the Quran. As we came out of rukoo, stood up, the imam had started making duaa, as this is the qunoot which is sometimes recited at the times of affliction when the Muslim ummah is affected by a calamity. It was then my heart just shook, my body felt weak and the tears were falling from my eyes. As I write this, tears are forming in my eyes. I don’t speak arabic but a lot of the duaas which were recited, I knew the meanings of them, so it shook me even more. It made me cry even more. The tears were just forming, dripping down my face, while the brother beside me was crying too.

All that i’ve been through in my life. All that I have seen these past couple of weeks with the people of Palestine being afflicted hit me like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The tears just kept on coming down my face. Nothing could have prepared me for crying in front of a crowd of people but it wasn’t a crowd of people that I was crying in front of but it was Allah SWT, the creator of the heavens and the earth. Never in my life had I cried the way I had cried during the duaa in fajr salah. Everything in my life, which Allah SWT had tried me with I accepted knowing it was best for me but it hurt a lot. Sometimes, you can accept the things in your life that keep happening or the tragedies in the world, knowing it is the decree of Allah but deep down, you are hurt from everything.

After the salah had finished, I quickly wiped the last couple of tears off my face, recited Ayatul Kursi and walked out the masjid. A great deal of weight that was on my heart and my mind was removed. I felt so relieved but I was questioning myself as to why I cried? I still ask myself, why did I cry that morning in fajr salah? The only logical reason I could come up with is because Allah had softened my heart in order for me to cry. In order for His words from the Quran to soften my heart. A lot of us have hard hearts and no matter what we do, how we live our lives, we cannot cry but crying, especially in front of your creator, when making duaa or listening to the Quran or reciting it is a mercy from Allah because His words are supposed to change your life, make you a better person.

May Allah SWT softens all our hearts and does not harden our hearts through out our lives and when they are softened, they remain that way.

Ameen.

My 4 Keys To Happiness

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4. The Gym

The feeling when you step into the gym and see all those weights, it’s probably one of the most beautiful feelings. You go into a whole different mindset when you step in there. Your mindset is onto your goals and everything that was in your head before you came to the gym is gone. Lifting those dumbbells, pressing that bar, squatting that weight as heavy as you can, feels so good! Pushing your body to the limit. To see what you got. Do you have the will to keep going even after that last rep took everything out of you? Are you going to complain, it’s too heavy? NO! You are going to go there and give EVERYTHING YOU GOT! Your heart is pumping, you are sweating, feeling great and everything just connects and clicks. I don’t think there are many things that can replace this feeling. The gym has you feeling great and looking great. Now, I know I have women that follow my blog and women, read carefully. Lifting weights does not make you big, bulky. Lifting weights and then eating a lot of food makes you big. Those muscular women got to that stage because their intake of calories and macronutrients went way over than what they were usually eating. Lets say for example, she ate 1200 calories a day and she increased that, she would obviously put on size. Lifting weights does not make you big. Eating garbage food, sitting on the couch, lifting the remote to change the channel makes you big. Be active!

3. A Healthy Lifestyle

People in my family like to call me grandpa with the discipline I have over what foods go into my body. Im not a junk food person. Im not a cake person. Im not even a person with a sweet tooth, considering my entire family has one. If I told you, I could eat junk food all day and I’d lose weight, you would say you are lying! but that is the truth, it happens to me. While my siblings will eat something sugary, I’ll be eating fruits. While they eat something high in trans fat, I’ll eat something in good fats, like an avocado, eggs or walnuts. The thing about a healthy lifestyle is, what you put into your body, is what you’ll get out of your body. I remember whenever I ate Popeyes, it taste good but the feeling after in your stomach is not worth it. You also have to understand, your body is an amanah (trust) on to you. Your body has rights over you so why not give it, its proper rights and treat it with goodness. If you want to feel good, eat the right foods and trust me, you’ll feel energetic, happy, positive all day long, insha’Allah! Eat that garbage and you are in for high and then a crash! Don’t take me the wrong way, I love burgers but I want my heart to feel great, so I eat it sometimes. My kids in the future, insha’Allah will hate me lol! Im not writing insha’Allah for them hating me, Im writing insha’Allah for having kids when I am married.

2. Tawakul (Trust) & Qadr (Decree)

Trust in who? Allah SWT! Whatever affairs are happening in your life, know it is from Allah SWT who has decreed this for you and believing in the decree without a doubt in your mind, without a thought of negativity puts all your worries to rest. The moment you start thinking of things going bad or negatively, you start to worry, you start to panic and where do those worries come from? The whispers of shaytaan. He makes you worry about your rizq (sustenance), he makes you worry about things out of your control, as it is says in Surah Al-Baqara: “Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality while Allah promises you forgiveness from him and bounty. And Allah is all encompassing and knowing” [2:268]

As long as you continue to make an effort in your life, remember that everything is the decree of Allah SWT. The progress you are making, nothing can go wrong . Only thing you’ll have everyday is a smile on your face because you’ve put your trust in the creator of the heavens and the earth.

1. Salah (Prayer)

This is my number 1 key to happiness. Now, I don’t know how anyone can live their life without salah. The moment you hear Allah-Hu Akbar (God Is The Greatest), no it doesn’t mean, someone is coming to kill you, it means Allah Is The Greatest, that is it. You fold your hands and stand attentively in the salah listening to the beautiful recitation of the Quran. I don’t know how many times I’ve stood in salah and my eyes would start watering, my heart would feel the words of the Quran. As soon as the imam recites something I understand, it’s really hard to hold back tears. Salah is vital organ for a believer. I can’t live without it and you shouldn’t either. No matter how much I may struggle at times, salah is something I will ALWAYS turn to in happiness and in sadness.

These are my 4 keys to happiness. Insha’Allah, you benefited from it and you learned something. JazakAllah khair for reading. Have any questions? Feel free to email me: mshabazz33@gmail.com

Getting The Solutions For Your Problems

This is the first of many videos to come insha’Allah. It took me a while to finally get the video done, so I’ve added a bunch of bloopers which Im sure you’ll enjoy. Give me feedback on my first video attempt and let me know what I could do better. What you enjoyed and what you disliked. Thanks for reading and watching…

Didn’t Meet Your Expectations This Ramadan?

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Didn’t meet your expectations this Ramadan? Didn’t accomplish what you had in mind? Ramadan is over or almost over? Do you give up or continue to strive? Just because Ramadan is over doesn’t mean you stop striving to fulfill those same expectations do you? Whatever you wanted to achieve this Ramadan, you have all these months to fulfill them and as the next Ramadan approaches, you will have fulfilled those same goals, expectations you had in mind only to get better. You don’t stop learning about Islam because the holiest month has passed or you are rewarded more. Who knows, the more you strive after Ramadan makes you a better person, you come closer to Allah SWT and you may even teach people about Islam which others may have not known about.

Always be positive with how you think in the present, so it’ll prepare you for your future. A lot of people put a stop to a lot of things after Ramadan only to lose all the benefit and work they’ve put forward. It’s like getting a job and within a month of getting the job, you stop working the way you used to work. You stop striving for a better position in the company and you are only miserable being stuck in the same place. Keep on striving even after Ramadan so you don’t have to worry about “I missed this and I missed that.” You didn’t miss nothing. You only think you missed so much, when in reality you missed nothing because you’ve been blessed to live another day. Many people have died this Ramadan. Some people died on the first day, some people died the first week and weren’t able to accomplish anything, while you’ve been blessed to complete the month with learning or being a better person insha’Allah for the sake of Allah SWT.

It’s like climbing a mountain and as soon as you get to the top, you decide to go all the way back down and say, ill wait another year to try and climb it again. No, you’ve almost reached the top, so continue to get to the top no matter how hard it becomes. No matter how cold the weather is up there. No matter what you have to go through, KEEP ON STRIVING! The finish line is when you die. That is it! When you die is when you rest. Right now, during these last few days of Ramadan or even 1 last day left, you keep on striving. You accomplish what you can and continue to accomplish more and more. Do not give up! Do not waste away all your effort because you’d rather do something which is less important. If you were reading the Quran consistently this Ramadan, keep on reading it. Even if you don’t do it everyday or read as much as you were reading, read as much as you can and as often as you can. If you were praying your salah 5 times a day, 3 times a day, 2 times a day, keep on striving. Do not let your salah go. Make that effort to pray in congregation. Make that effort to pray on time as you were. Make that effort to pray before the time for that salah is up. You began wearing the hijab this month, do your best to keep it on and remind yourself how beautiful you look in the hijab and the person you are only pleasing and doing it for is Allah SWT. You must remind yourself you are beautiful in it. If you were giving sadaqa (charity) continue to give charity, do not put an end to what you’ve worked so hard for.  It’s like an athlete whose trained for several weeks or months and when it is time to compete, the athlete just gives up and doesn’t want to compete anymore. You are that athlete and you are competing for the love of Allah SWT. If you were asking for forgiveness everyday, continue to ask. Do not leave what will make you better for what will make you possibly goto the hellfire. You want Jannah (heaven) not jahanum (hell).

So whatever you are able to learn even after Ramadan will be beneficial for you, insha’Allah. Don’t stop walking towards the straight path. Don’t stop walking towards Allah SWT. Don’t stop learning the religion which will enter you in jannah, insha’Allah. Your work is only done when your time is called to meet Allah SWT. As of today, you have today, tomorrow and insha’Allah more days to come. Take advantage of them.

Why I Decided To Stop Listening To Music

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* Authors Note – There are several proofs why music is haram. A lot of people seem to take Ibn Hazm (may Allah have mercy upon him) proof on making it permissible but the scholars have said, it is haram. Even The Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him) said, there will be a day where several things people will make them halal and one of them was music. One of the sites I like to use for finding answers for Islam is http://www.islamqa.com .. You can find and research the proofs yourself.

Assalamwalikum (Peace Be Upon You). As I sit here in this extremely hot day in Toronto, Ive been asked quite a lot of times, “why did you stop listening to music and how?” The explanation of someone who does something may sound simple but the struggle as we all know is the hardest part. A majority of us have made music a huge part of our lives. A lot of us wake up to our alarm clocks which are now their favourite songs. Many of us occupy ourselves in our drives or rides to work or wherever we are going with a CD or an iPod filled with music. Music has become such a huge part in our lives that many people cannot live without music.

A lot of times I’ve come across asking myself this question. “If I was to die in a state of doing something which is haram (forbidden) would I want to be raised that way, in front of Allah SWT?” This question would constantly pop up in my head as I would drive to work in the early morning hours or coming back from work. You know the usual, driving in your car, windows down, blasting your music. It was the way to drive, no matter where you are going. I guess we’ve been influenced so much that we think that this is by far the most “coolest” way to drive. If we had someone beside us and they were listening to something of a different genre, we would laugh in our heads. A lot of us are driving dancing, bobbing our head, knowing the lyrics to the songs but again, the question would pop up in my head “do I want to die in this state, reciting lyrics?

Eventually, the more I pondered over the songs I listened to, the more I’d begin to understand. Now, someone may say “music is not the problem, it is you, who has become weak and being influenced by music, Im still normal listening to it!” If you are a non-muslim, that question may fly but if you are a Muslim, that question doesn’t fly. How many times are standing in salah through out the day, whether in congregation or alone and you are doing your best to recite Surah Al-Fatiha which just rolls off the tongue because we’ve grown up reciting it and then the next Surah you are reciting or action attempting to do, there are those lyrics stuck in your head. Or you are standing in salah while the imam is reciting and those lyrics are stuck in your head. You are doing your best to concentrate in your salah and that song you’ve had on repeat is there. It is just becomes hard because the shaytaan is doing his best reminding of things to do through out the day and what you should have done and your missed opportunities and then there are also the lyrics which just dribble in your head.

The music did not just only affect my salah but it affected my speech. Everyone can relate to the speech in the music, as it is profanity or “OMG! HE SAID A BAD WORD!” which we have become accustomed to as it has become the norm now-a-days. It was just not only the profanity, the bad words but how we would speak to one another. Anyone who says, music has not influenced my life in a negative way is down right in denial. You can tell from the way they speak and the way they speak to others and the way they speak about others. If it is about a woman it’s usually the “B” word or hoe or slut or if it is about a male its usually that n-word this and that n-word that. Some people have no problem using these words calling out others but would a brother call his mother, sister or cousin the “B” word or hoe or slut? Obviously not but we easily refer to others who we have no connection with. Many people will say “I don’t mean it in that way” but even then, you are making excuses for your lack of manners. Allah SWT says about saying good and not saying things which are bad, ill, profanity,  in Surah Al-Ahzaab: “O, you who believe! Fear Allah and speak a word that is true and He will correct your deeds and forgive your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has indeed achieved a great success.” and Allah SWT also says says Surah Al-Mu’minun (The Believers): “And they who turn away from ill speech.” “Ill speech” is all we usually get 75% of the time in the music we listen to now-a-days, so if you say you are are not even affected by what you are listening to or how you speak to others then you are in denial.

Music not only affects your speech but how you act. I won’t say it makes people do anything but it definitely influences people to have different ambitions in life. Achieving things by haram means. In music, most rappers are rapping about the street life and how they make money selling drugs and having a similar lifestyle with cash, clothes and cars. So the youth either see this in the videos or what they hear and they go out and attempt to live in those means. This not only affects their eman (faith) but it also affects the community and if they get caught, it affects them getting a job which would provide for them in a halal way, that itself becomes a struggle.

After years of listening to music and years of struggling to keep away from music, its been years since I stopped listening to music, Alhumdulilah. First and foremost, I don’t want to die reciting lyrics or listening to music but I want to die in a state of eman (faith) as a believer, and die raised in the best manner. So when I am raised in front of my creator, Allah SWT, I will be raised in the best state possible. Secondly, It was affecting my salah. Constant reminders of the songs I’d listen to through the day or songs I’d have on repeat. After I gave up music, Alhumdulilah, I can concentrate better in salah, as there is not a single song stuck in my head. I just decided one day after pondering over these thoughts I’ve shared with you, Ill give it up for good. I had stacks of CDs, not bootleg but ones I purchased and decided to break them all and throw them out. The first thought that entered my mind was don’t break them, sell them and make money off of them but then I thought to myself, I’d only be giving up my haram and giving it to someone else to be involved in haram, so I’d get sins. This was obviously the whisper of shaytaan telling me make money but Alhumdulilah, I did not. Obviously, I am not perfect, I do commit errors and I do sin, just as we all do and I do my best to make my character to the best of my abilities and my best to live according to the Sunnah Of the Messenger Of Allah (Peace & Blessings Be Upon Him).

So this is was my struggle, my experience, my escape from music and how it affected me and how it no longer affects me in any type of way. I know many people struggle with music, just as I have struggled over the years and it is definitely hard to give it up but you have to ask yourself the same questions I asked myself. You have to listen to your speech and how you speak to others, how you act, what are your ambitions and what made you have those ambitions? You can be music free and you can be a better believer. If you are able to give up so many things in your life because you know it has affected you and it may be whatever your struggles were, why can you not do the same with music when you know its affecting your eman? It’s affecting your salah and your connection with Allah and the people around you and it being haram (foridden).

May Allah SWT make it easy for you.

When Seeking A Spouse

When seeking a spouse, you are looking for a person that is ideal for you. If a person comes along and is not ideal for you, do not go and attempt to customize them in order to fulfill that ideal image.

People are not like restaurant menu items, where you are able to customize your dish and remove things and add things that you desire. You can substitute the rice for pasta, salad with or without croutons, spicy or mild, etc.

People come as they are, with good manners or bad manners. Smokers or non-smokers, praying salaah or does not pray salaah, hijab or no hijab. You cannot customize them. That is up to them to decide and realize what is beneficial and what is not. If the person is not ideal for you, be patient because Allah knows and you do not. Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.