Posts from June 2016

Take your time

June 19, 2016


Painting by Ludwig Deutsch

After travelling and overall exhaustion from the heat I fell asleep and ended missing two prayers. Usually, when I miss a prayer I try to rush to make it up. But I have the unfortunate habit of rushing the salah itself. Somehow in my mind, I mix up having to rush to pray with rushing the prayer itself. With this being my typical habit -to the point where I don’t notice I do it, I was about to do the same thing until something came over me and gently said: “take your time”. Take my time, take it easy, relax. Release the anxiety of making up a prayer, release the anxiety of whatever you think you have to do after prayer, release the idea of “getting it over with”.

I sometimes suffer from performance anxiety with my salah causing me to rush when there’s no need. I’m afraid my salah won’t be good enough -which of course it won’t be, it won’t be reflective enough, I won’t pay enough attention, I’ll forget a verse or what rakah I’m up to, it won’t be deep enough or profound enough. So maybe I rush through it to avoid the pain of not being good enough.

Or maybe it will be too profound. Maybe the verses will penetrate too deeply. Maybe the hell fire will become too clear. Maybe my shortcomings will become too heavy to bear. Maybe I’ll see the reality of “God is greater” and “Glory to God”. Maybe I’ll fall apart and be unable to continue through life knowing the reality of the prayer, the reality of life.

Whether fear of underperforming, being overwhelmed or a false sense of urgency. Something helped me to just forget it all and simply take my time. It’s not to say I had a grand spiritual opening but I felt at ease. A small step but a big one in improving our worship to God.



June 11, 2016

Reflective Ramadan Post Series, #2 Wise words from Al Ghazali

I think the below passage perfectly describes what we hope to attain from Ramadan, exerted form Sheikh Abdul Hakim Murad’s translation of Al Ghazali On Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the two Desires:

“Fight your soul with the swords of self- discipline. These four: eating little, sleeping briefly, speaking only when necessary, and tolerating all the wrongs done to you by men. For eating little slays desire , sleeping briefly purifies your aspirations, speaking little saves you from afflictions, and tolerating wrongs will bring you to the goal -for the hardest thing for a man is to be mild when snubbed and to tolerate the wrongs done to him. And when you wish to indulge your desires and sin stirs your soul, and the delight of superfluous discourse is aroused, you should draw the sword of eating little from the scabbard of the midnight prayer and sleeping briefly , and smite them with the fists of obscurity and silence until they cease to oppress you and avenge themselves upon you, and you become safe from their visscitudes to the end of your days, having cleansed them of the darkness of the soul’s desires so that you escape from their hazardous affliction. At this you will become a subtle spiritual body, and a radiance without weight, and shall roam in the field of goodness, traveling the paths of obedience to God like a swift horse in the field and a king taking recreation in a garden.”

Instructions of care

June 10, 2016

I always thought that if I had a dog I wouldn’t be one of those people who feels too lazy to walk their dog, clean up its poo, rub its belly or refill its food tray. After all, we all know what is entailed in having a dog if you choose to have one it’s incredibly immoral to not take care of it. But what about the rules entailed in dealing with other people or even with ourselves?

I was reading an article earlier about a reality show stars’ husband telling her he wasn’t attracted to her with a bonnet and that this was at least partly the reason for their lack of intimacy. We all know reality shows often have little to do with reality nevertheless the topic raised some interesting questions for spouses or anyone in hopes of being a spouse one day. In the comment section of the article and the tone of the article’s author it was abundantly clear that the women felt the husband belittled his wife and that the wife was not in the wrong. Some said the bonnet shouldn’t matter others felt it was only an excuse for something else and others felt she should be able to wear whatever she wanted.

In reflecting on it myself I simply conclude that the bonnet or anything else within reason that upsets one’s spouse and puts a strain on one’s marriage should be removed without a second thought. Marriage in our times fails, in my opinion, largely because we no longer know how to be in relationships that involve give and take on the most personal level. But that is what marriage involves, and one who enters a marriage unwillingly to do that is cheating themselves and their partners.

As I attempt to be healthier, the ongoing struggle that it is, I think about the fact that most of us -including myself, know exactly what to do to be healthy. On an even larger scale, I believe we (almost) always know the right thing to do in every part of our life but are simply unwilling to do it. We know how much studying we’ll need to do to pass the class, we know how much effort it will take to get the promotion, we know if when our relationships are failing, we know what foods make us feel sick and which give us energy, we know. But we have to pay attention and we have to act on what we know. And when we don’t we also know the consequences.

What I Ate | 90 days being mostly vegan | Day 1

June 9, 2016

9d0cc5d6a311ebfd4f3705b71202a7c5First day, first step. So I’ve begun my journey to be mostly dairy and meat free i.e. mostly vegan. I’d say I hit closer to the 50% mark than the 85%  mark but it’s a good start. I’ll start with what went wrong, I allowed myself to o.d. on one of my favorite foods, exactly what I spoke about not wanting to do in the last post. Unfortunately, the mac and cheese was too good to deny the second serving, hopefully, I’ll be more successful next time. Breakfast and lunch went well with my first snack being a bit of a fail but I give myself a pass on the milk tea after dinner. In terms of how I feel, I know the mac and cheese definitely gave me a heaviness that I’m used to feeling from dairy but I don’t feel horrible. All and all a good first day, see the details below.

Smoothie (Banana, berries, honey, water)
Toast w/ jelly

Cake (Non- vegan) + green mint tea with honey

Smoothie (Banana, almond milk, chocolate powder, honey)

Mac and cheese (NV),  barbecue chicken (NV), soup, salad with salad dressing

Milk tea
Date bites

Going vegan (85% of the time)

June 9, 2016

So I’ve spoken about this on the blog a few times -being healthy and possibly going vegan. As I laid in bed in pain yesterday, it became abundantly clear that I really ought to go back to being a vegan. Despite it being that time of the month of late I’d also been consuming a lot of dairy. Over the years, my body has become more and more uncomfortable with dairy. Milk being the worse of offenders with ice-cream as a close second, then cheese, yogurt and egg being the least offensive. When I was vegan, quite a few years ago now, I felt extremely healthy. Gone were monthly cramps or that feeling of general heaviness my body experiences after eating dairy (with the exception of eggs).

But slowly old habits crept in and before I knew it I was no longer vegan but just another American on a S.A.D. diet. Anyway, I want to change. I can’t say I’ll become vegan again because I think having a super restrictive diet is setting one’s self up for failure and is honestly just a nuisance to others. So I want to be vegan 85% of the time -or something like that. When I have complete control over my meals -when I’m living alone or just eating alone, I’ll make meat-free and dairy-free meals. When I’m with others I’ll try my best not to o.d. on the foods I love (but clearly don’t love me) and eating mostly vegan options that are available. So in my quest for a change I’ve been watching ‘What I ate in a day’ vegan videos. I found the above video the most helpful so far because it’s a vegan diet without “weird foods”. I’m not interested in vegan alternatives that taste just like it’s dairy equivalent (with few exceptions like Almond milk) nor am I interested in Quinoa or Kombucha, I want a vegan diet that’s still familiar and with foods I can get from a normal grocery store. Maybe one day I’ll upgrade to caring about what exactly Kimchi is but for now, I just want to be healthier.

Reflective Ramadan | A time to recharge

June 6, 2016

Reflective Ramadan Post Series, #1 A time to recharge

Whether your practice has been lacking lately or you’ve been doing your best Ramadan serve as a perfect time to recharge. When Ramadan arrives we are reminded that God has blessed us to live another year -another year of our lives, another year as Muslims, another year to partake in this holy month. Whatever we’ve been doing we being to reevaluate -are my prayers intentional? Do I prayer each prayer on time? Are my clothes modest enough? Is my speech kind enough?

Our early suhoor schedule allows us never miss fair. Tarawih reminds us of Tahhajud. Iftar invokes us to serve others. The presence of Ramadan challenges us to be our best selves. It’s important to remind ourselves that Ramadan is about more than skipping lunch but it would be a mistake to downplay the important of the fast itself, especially in our times. Going hours without eating has become abnormal in modern (Western) society and so to do so for God is a sacrifice worth noticing.

Because fasting is not routine for most of us throughout the year it gives us a chance to be intentional in our worship. We are not eating from sunrise to sunset solely because of God. In the summer months the difficulty of doing this increasing but we keep going on for His sake.

But truly it’s for our own. god doesn’t need us to fast for him, we do it by His command but for our own sake. One of the most beautiful reminders I ever received about Ramadan was from Sheikh Uthman of masjid Taqwa. I remember him saying that when we fast we are like the angels. The angels don’t eat, drink or have intercourse -ever, so when we do the same we are like them.

InshaAllah, may this month be a month of a bit more exertion of our spiritual efforts.

All rights reserved © Fig & Olive 2015 · Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie