The price of milk

February 12th, 2015 | by Waleed

A friend almost lost his job recently. That process shook him. As a family man, despite savings, he was naturally very worried about providing for his children. The price of milk, the price of milk.

He cautions me: Plan, save, be careful. You need to do all this and more as the head of the house. Do you know what it’s like to have that fear, of not being able to provide food to your kids?, he quizzes me

No. I don’t.

I have a son with autism. I worry about his future every day. I cry in private. I scream to Him. I stare at my child every day and do mental math. Every single day. I play stupid mental chess on how to position my other kids to help him 15-20 years from now.

I have a wife with a possibly life threatening genetic disorder. I keep my phone charged constantly in case I get The Call from some stranger or the police. I trace her movement every few hours to make sure she’s still alive. I look forward to an expensive gadget like Apple Watch because it can transmit heart rates to others. So I will know she’s alive. I watch her daily get weaker and stronger. It’s a painful magic.

And then my children were diagnosed potentially with the same life threatening disorder. Have you ever tried muffling your tears and cries with your children in the back of your car because your child is in pain and you can’t do anything about it? When your little girl says “Baba, my back is popping like bubbles. It hurts” and you beg Allah (SWT).

No, Alhamdulilah I am not afraid of the price of milk.

Good thing we love soup

June 30th, 2014 | by Waleed

Nearly a decade ago, I told you that when you were sick I would feed you soup, badly.

I stand by that. I promise I will hold your hand through it all and I have no intentions of letting go.

After all, I have big plans for us in the hereafter insha-Allah and insha-Allah, we’re almost there I swear, we’re almost there. For this too shall pass.

The post where I talk about not going to Madina

July 29th, 2013 | by Waleed

I was supposed to be in Madina right now but due to the massive construction in Mecca, umrah visas are limited.

I was supposed to be living there for 10+ days but that hasn’t happened.

It’s very odd for me. After 3 years, my first Ramadan with the family. It’s not wrong, it’s just plain odd. I’m used to sleeping in the Masjid Nabawi, making sure my father is OK, biting my tongue, eating 1/8th the food I usually do (and feeling amazing at the same time), meeting incredibly magical new people and so much more.

This year, friends of mine got a private tour of the Masjid. They went to the spot where Umra R.A. died, they learnt about the history of the city. I know what that feels like. I remember the marble beneath my floors. The early morning smell inside the masjid. The sight of those giant domes silently opening and closing. I remember helping others drink zamzam moments before Fajr. The smiles of sharing tea inside the masjid. The superbly generous “average” Saudis.

I have often heard people make dua, asking Allah (SWT) to let them come to Mecca/Madina.
I just didn’t understand what it meant until this Ramadan. I need to go back.

The post where I talk about my previous month

July 24th, 2013 | by Waleed

The past month has been annoyingly interesting. Some months are sadly boring, some are brilliantly amazing.

Annoyingly interesting is a new one.

Here is what has happened to me:
I travelled half-way across the world, down.
I ate some squid.
I got to wear an old fav winter jacket.
I rode on a tram.
I avoided horses.
I almost jumped off a mountain or hill.
I learnt how to put on a bow-tie, poorly.
I ate seaweed.
I almost hopped onto a plane again.
I jumped into a jacuzzi at an airport.
I drank roughly 5% my usual caffeine intake.
I didn’t steal any hotel supplies.
I spent 4 hours cleaning up an explosion of liquid marshmallow in my suitcase.
I played with wet sand.
I discussed mexican chocolate molé sauce.

I saw possibly the most beautiful beaches of my life. I experienced the worst air pollution of my life. I had the most amazing corn ice-cream ever. Everywhere I went, my hands kept itching because I knew what I was missing. I missed my wife, my best friend, my partner, my co-adventurer, my life, my other. The adjectives don’t stop and if you know what I mean, you know what I mean and if you don’t know what I mean, then I understand your eyes rolling. You poor sap you, you don’t know what you are missing.

My previous month was annoyingly interesting and I hope it almost definitely almost never happens again.

How life has changed and other wonderful things

July 16th, 2013 | by Waleed

Requests to start blogging have been murmuring again.

Today, Alhamdulilah, I have three kids and one wife. It’s important to specify that because otherwise people may ask how many kids I have. The wife is full-time, as are the kids. I know this because they are always there.

I can feel myself getting older. Little things are changing, nonchalantly, as if not to surprise me. My back hurts more when I do that. My knees are cracking when I pray at Fajr. And my office bag finally broke. Those things are meant to last yet.

I am still a geek, and I like being a geek. I get to goto geek conferences and nod my head passionately at the tiny achievements of other geeks. I tweeted, took photos, posed for photos, gave comments and had my hand shaken vigorously many times. Geeks love geeks.

I recently ate squid, corn ice cream, seaweed. I liked them all almost.

And thus years pass by and our smiles are the same. Alhamdulilah.

The sanctuary

September 12th, 2009 | by Waleed

I started reading Quran. I’m not going to say I started reading Quran again, that’s not true though I wish it was and wasn’t. Reading Quran again implies that you used to do it regularly. It also, sadly, implies that you stopped at some point. Clearly, not an easy statement to make.

I’m reading Quran nowadays and I’m trying to learn more about this guidance from Allah (SWT). And in it, there are signs for those who believe. I’m all for logic so yeah, most of it seems powerfully evident to me. SubhanAllah.

I’m thinking a bit more about Quran nowadays and I realize that every time I do, my worldly matters start becoming trivial. He said, she said, he did, she did…all fade away. You fade away. Your stings fade away. I still have to struggle to focus on what I’m reading but insha-Allah I’m getting better. I open up a translation of the Quran that I can follow easily and every page/surah I read.

It’s an easy to get to sanctuary, this Islam of ours. It’s safe and it protects us immensely. The guidelines within are written for mere mortals to follow. And every single guideline in there protects us. Safeguards us. Constantly. Without fail. Just think about that for a second: I’m going to give you an amazing system that will help protect you every single second of your life. And if you’re good with it, it will protect the people that you love too.

We’ve forgotten the Quran very largely in our lives. We read up rulings and fatwas and he said this and that speaker gave a fantastic lecture and i feel so inspired and we need to change the world. That’s great Alhamdulilah. Change the world. Amazing. How can you change the world when you haven’t changed yourself or equipped yourself?

So, where does it all come from? From Allah (SWT). And then where next? His Quran. Then next? His Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

I know you, smart reader, know all this. Sure you do. If you know this so well, then do you know where your Quran is right now? I didn’t. I had to go find one.

Please go pick up your Quran.

Lessons from ’97

September 9th, 2009 | by Waleed

The year is 1997 and I am new in college. I’m awe-struck, going from store to store, amazed at being a young adult with a few dollars in my pockets and amazed at the “huge” variety that the on-campus stores were offering. I’m in love with something invisible. It’s not the materialism and it’s not the shopping. I think it’s being independent that I started falling in love with. Years later, this desire to be fully independent has to be carefully balanced with my family philosophy.

I walked a lot those days and that’s how I slowly developed my love/hate relationship with walking. I understood its intricacies and its beauty. I also understood why we rarely walked in the Middle East. (12 years later, I am in Singapore and end up walking 7-9 kms on a two-day trip. I now love walking in the right conditions).

Football season is coming soon and I’m learning how intensely passionate Americans are about their football. Store walls are covered in posters of the players. Hallways in every building have them pinned up to any open space available. This year they are marketing a new message: Family comes first. It puzzles me at first. This is something you need to be told? Ofcourse it comes first. I walk away amused.

In 1997 I lived with my sister and brother respectively. Their house was basic yet full of love, constant wisdom and lots of dishes to wash. I was, as my brother used to kid, his intern and at his beck and call. I never ever minded that – not even the time he asked me to walk across town, go up the street, buy him food and deliver to where he was studying. Or the time he promised to study Arabic with me but had other things to do. I have stories. My brother did things that back then blew me away and today, he is one of my role models in life. May Allah (SWT) guard his heart, make his ebadah sincere and give him/his children characters that He loves. Ameen.

Time and time again bro has demonstrated what it means to be family to me. He’s been there for me when I was being blatantly jaahill (ignorant). He was there for me when I accepted my Islam again. And he was there to pick me up by the freezing curb in winter 97. He’s maintained communication and applied PMP techniques to make family relationships work. After years of seeing him in action and integrating my own skillsets, I understand, though not fully, what family means.

I’ve told these stories a few times over the years – the ones about walking and the ones about my brother. Walking, everyone gets. But as time has passed by I’ve come to certain conclusions about how family is perceived by others. And I guess I’ll learn more as time flies by. That’s OK because it has merely firmed my faith in how I want my kids to be. It’s a simple and powerful philosophy I think. The evidence of its application are in abundance – the outcomes are amazing. Either way, you need to remember the cost and consequences of your actions. As an adult, I’ve managed to muck up a few things with family and have paid the price. Cost and consequences + foresight = deep aha moments.

I know I’m not alone in thinking about family as such. I’ve met countless people who have acted similarly. Family comes first – it’s a no brainer. And yet, to some this is news. SubhanAllah, may Allah (SWT) protect us all.

These are some lessons I remember from my college years. I’m not always good with them but I think I try. Walk whenever you can. And family comes first.

The 5 little points of Tajweed

August 20th, 2009 | by Waleed

Note from listening to Wisam Sharrief-

Keep these 5 points in mind when you recite Quran:

  1. Letters can be heavy or light
  2. Letters live somewhere (throat, lips, mouth)
  3. This Cat Feels Awfully Cool
  4. What gets stretched & how much (north/south – east/west)
  5. Don’t bounce what don’t need to bounce

All you sinners, put your lights on

August 18th, 2009 | by Waleed

The Effect of Sins on Human Beings, from the works of Ibn Qayyim over 650 years ago. From the notes of the Ilm Summit 09 course, compiled by a smart sister.

1. Deprived of knowledge. Knowledge is light and illumination, and if there is darkness of sin in the heart, then you will not be illuminated. Imam Shafi’ee complained to Waqi about his bad memory and was told to check his heart and lifestyle and abandon the sin. The light is not given to a sinner.

2. Denied of provision from Allah (subhanahu wata’ala). Hadeeth: sometimes Allah deprived a person of provision due to the sin committed. The more sins a person commits, the less provision. There is no barakah.

3. Feeling of loneliness in the heart. When a person is lonely, he does not come close to Allah and feels as if he is on his own. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) warned us from accepting that feeling. When you commit a sin, you feel so guilty and do not feel like you are worth being with the people who are good. You think that you are not on their level and ruining the gathering with your sins. This is not what Allah asks of you. Allah wants you to be close to Him regardless of what you do.
You feel lonely even when people are around you. Why? You are not like them and they won’t accept you if they knew who you are. This is worse. You are physically with them but feel alone. The Shaytan goes after the one who is separate from the crowd mentally and psychologically. Life becomes difficult for them. Of these influences: darkness in your heart (cannot distinguish between right and wrong).

4. Darkness in the heart. Cannot distinguish between right and wrong.

5. Takes a toll on the body and heart. Spiritually and physically exhausted. Ibaadah becomes very hard.

6. Deprived of the sweetness of ibaadah.

7. Makes your life shorter. In terms of barakah and age. In terms of age: you are stressed out all the time or some people commit suicide because of the sin. Someone committing a sin goes after one sin after the other. This may cause physical damage to the person. The most important thing is the barakah of the time.

8. The sin breeds the sin. This is one of the worst effects of the sin. If you do a sin and enjoy it, then it will lead to something new.

I share this as a reminder to myself first, and then to you reader.

I’m not alone in my sins. I’m not alone in my mistakes. I’m not alone in what I do. I’m not alone seeking repentance. I’m not alone falling down. I’m not alone. I’m not alone.

I’m sorry and I’m going to try again. Thank you Allah (SWT).

You cannot quit me so quickly

August 18th, 2009 | by Waleed

I have hope for you, my friend.