On the limelessness of lemons and the lemonlessness of limes

When you accept the brokenness of peopleimg_20161017_173759

And you accept that we all come from a deep place of isolation and the need for self-fulfilment

You don’t know when they were on the brink, a fine line, you don’t know when they were on the precipice and that one look, that one word pushed them into the abyss and it broke something irreparable


When you accept that you don’t have to be perfect, and neither does anyone else

You don’t even have to try if you don’t want to, if it hurts to be

And what’s perfect anyway?

To be as lemon as a lemon

Or as lime as a lime

But what if the lemon cannot be lime

And the lime cannot be lemon

That’s it, what if they just can’t? What if they really want to, just to please you, but they just can’t?

And they’re both perfectly fine with being made into sweet lemonade and they twirl and intertwine and they love being what they are

It’s what makes your taste buds tingle and you don’t even KNOW


-Umm Saifullah 


The Believer’s Prison

Don’t you get it?

Put a foot on it and don’t let it stir. Block out the sound of its whimpering and don’t give in. Let it die. Let it suffocate. Let it wither away into nothingness.

Clench your teeth. Breathe in. Hold it. Breathe out. Let the hot tears evaporate on your fiery cheeks and don’t wipe them away.

Hold your head high. Don’t look back. You were born alone, you live alone, and you shall die alone. Alone they will lower you into your grave and alone you shall answer your Lord. Alone.

Swallow the pill and relish its bitter sweetness. Don’t forget. Don’t be deceived by the fleeting moments. Do not dwell.

“Paradise is surrounded by hardships and undesirable difficulties.” Be a stranger in this strange hole.


لا ترفع رأسك من السجود و في قلبك شيء

Beg, nag, complain, cry, wail to Him.

And when you find relief,

Remember this.

– Umm Saifullah 

The Brain is Wider Than the Sky

I’m sitting at my workspace and my mind is racing. Niqabinja puts it best when she says, “My mind is so full but it’s empty.” There are ideas floating past and I’m trying as best as I can to keep up and grasp them before they are lost in the voracious void of what is the most remarkable creation on Earth. 

As usual, that grounded, I-know-what-I’m-doing-now feeling doesn’t last for even a month. I’m back at the drawing board and the list just keeps getting longer yet I don’t have a road map yet. I need razor sharp focus and a killer cup of coffee. As with any new project idea, this one has me up at night and then bright eyed and bushy tailed very early in the morning. This is when I know that it’s the way to go: when I don’t have to make an effort to keep it going. I grab my pen and a journal and make a mindmap but none of it is making sense. Bittersweet. 

Back and forth with Niqabinja as we throw ideas at each other, and we’re finally scratching out the rejects. Almost there almost there almost there… 

Surah Yunus in the background. A random choice meant to maximize my focus and catch a reminder or two as the storm rages on and maybe even end up with a productive revision session if nothing else. Typing away, backspace, backspace, scratch, erase, no no no and then it finally hits me hard and FULL STOP. 

قُلْ مَن يَرْزُقُكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَمَّن يَمْلِكُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَمَن يُخْرِجُ الْحَيَّ مِنَ الْمَيِّتِ وَيُخْرِجُ الْمَيِّتَ مِنَ الْحَيِّ وَمَن يُدَبِّرُ الْأَمْرَ ۚ فَسَيَقُولُونَ اللَّهُ ۚ فَقُلْ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ

Say, “Who provides for you from the heaven and the earth? Or who controls hearing and sight and who brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living and who arranges [every] matter?” They will say, ” Allah ,” so say, “Then will you not fear Him?”

That’s what these ideas are. They’re alive. Floating, exploding, bouncing, doubling, tripling, inspiring, driving me to do things I would never have imagined for myself. Dozing off and then waking me as I find myself in the middle of a traffic jam. Dozing off and then waking me as I find myself scrubbing and scraping. Dozing off and then waking me as I reiterate the correct answers. Dozing off and then waking me as I stare at the walls in the endless corridors the way to which I have memorized.

They’re like bubbles of hope, bubbles that don’t pop, they simply rest on a fallen leaf until the next wind blows them up and away. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Just because you can’t touch it or feel it doesn’t mean that it’s not alive. The abstractness and intangibility is what makes you do the things you do.

Its the invisible pulls that tug at your heartstrings. What do you do when you don’t feel the tug anymore? What do you do when your soul has trained itself to ignore the tug? Do you even notice that it’s gone? Do you miss it? You have a head full of it, did you use it for what it was created? Its apparently the size of your fist, do you know what it can do for you? Seemingly its very alive. But is it really?

وَمَا تَكُونُ فِي شَأْنٍ وَمَا تَتْلُو مِنْهُ مِن قُرْآنٍ وَلَا تَعْمَلُونَ مِنْ عَمَلٍ إِلَّا كُنَّا عَلَيْكُمْ شُهُودًا إِذْ تُفِيضُونَ فِيهِ ۚ وَمَا يَعْزُبُ عَن رَّبِّكَ مِن مِّثْقَالِ ذَرَّةٍ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ وَلَا أَصْغَرَ مِن ذَٰلِكَ وَلَا أَكْبَرَ إِلَّا فِي كِتَابٍ مُّبِينٍ

And, [O Muhammad], you are not [engaged] in any matter or recite any of the Qur’an and you [people] do not do any deed except that We are a witness over you when you are involved in it. And not absent from your Lord is any [part] of an atom’s weight within the earth or within the heaven or [anything] smaller than that or greater, but that it is in a clear book. 

Two sides of the same coin. Did you die before you died?

-Umm Saifullah 


Teaching Updates + Ramadan Resolutions


The last time I posted, I was just starting out with an all new vigorous teaching schedule. A lot has happened since then to be honest, a lot of progress and a lot of learning and self-discovery and reflections. I’m loving the accountability that comes with teaching; it keeps me on my toes since I’m not just working on MY goal but it’s somebody else’s goal as well. The teacher-student interaction and the sense that I can actually help somebody attain something substantial and worthwhile. That being said, its a big humongous responsibility and it hasn’t been an easy ride. Even when I’m not teaching, the students are always on my mind.. what can I do to make their learning experience easier, maybe even enjoyable? Am I impacting them the way my teachers impacted me? Why am I doing this? What can I do to maximize the benefit? 

Teaching is a lot about self-growth. I learn something new from each of my students… especially since our classes are all one-on-one… they inspire me to do more. Be a better person. I’ll be rushing through the day to check off other responsibilities and very often I’ll collapse at my desk for a class at the very last minute, take a deep breath and begin. Two minutes in and I’m in another world entirely. I get lost in the fathah and the kasrah and the dhammah and the  madd laazim. The dagger alif and the istitaalah of the dhaadh. The alif has a sharp laam but don’t stress too much on the hamzah…the baa, taa and thaa are boats… the raa can be written in so many different ways.. trying to perfect each characteristic, correct every error and iron out every little glitch. The huroof al muqata’aat. Just the huroof al muqata’aat. 


 For the longest time in the first few days of Ramadan, I had been too busy with teaching to properly contemplate on what I want need to achieve this year. Seemingly, this Ramadan has not been one of my most productive ones in terms of Quran khatms or any of that other goodness. But there’s so much more to it than that! I do realize that one of my main targets has been to build habits that last a lifetime… more efficiency and consistency. And SO, I’ve been focusing more on tiny bits (like one long Surah) a day, rather than 3 or 4 juz in a day, which is quite different from the way I was going in the past few years. I want to have a consistent  habit of perfecting a little of what I memorized everyday, rather than speed walk through the whole Quran. Not to say that completing a few khatms in Ramadan is bad, no, it’s just not what I see myself doing every single day for the rest of the year.

It’s been about trying to live ‘ibadah. To do normal routine activities with hope for reward and total reliance on Allah, to do things like laundry and cooking and cleaning because they are a part of an intentionally Muslim lifestyle and not just because they are necessities. I feel like it’s a workout for the soul. You exert all that energy and push all those muscles and you’ve worked yourself up to a sweat, heart pumping, blood pulsing and a few hours later you’re in immensely satisfying pain because *it worked*. Whether your struggle is patience, commitment, frugality or selflessness.. it will feel like a soul workout. 

Another target has been to be more grateful. To live life like a gift. 

To focus on things that matter the most.

-Umm Saifullah 

The Red Sea speaks to Me

Standing on the seashore of The Jeddah Corniche. I watch the foam floating ashore, as white as milk, bubbles like soap, moistening the hot sparkling desert sand, and pulling back with its debris. It brings with it shimmering sea shells, taking sand and debris in return, as if  sealing a trade. I look up. I see the gleaming yellow-gold sun setting in the horizon, streaking pinks, reds, and yellows throughout the sunset sky, almost like a painter’s canvas- each color carefully splashed on, each shade gently blended to give it a sense of belonging. The Sun showering its sparkles as if to show its pleasure, the waves dancing gracefully back and forth in glee and harmony. Years of Geo class remind me it’s the Red Sea, it must be.


Studying – Getting back to it


Alright so, this is a different kind of post; not the usual for this blog. But I figured writing about it would make the transition back easier. 

 Quick update: I moved to Toronto. There’s a meter long list of things that need to be crossed off and I’m working my way s-l-o-w-l-y-y-y-y-y, but alhmdulilah I’ve got a head start on quite a few things and now I just need to pull through this final stretch before A WARM, SUNNY SUMMER BACK HOME.  Which reminds me, we’ve been doing some gardening work which I might blog about.

I took a break from studying for about three months and now I have exactly 10 weeks till the exam deadlines. I’ll be ranting  writing about math, time management, driving, study hacks that work for me, scheduling and routines, Shakespeare, functionalism, chai, yummy face masks, libraries, my playlist, detox smoothies and MUCH MORE. 

Keep on Reading!

Northern Pakistan: Days 3, 4 and 5

The next morning, we were up and ready after Fajr. We prayed, then we had breakfast at Royalton, then we got into the car. We drove from Islamabad to Haripur, passed through to Abbotabad, then Mansehra, Batgram and then Besham. We stopped at Mansehra because the driver wanted to pay his brother a short visit. We prayed, got some snacks and then set out again. Next we stopped at Besham and by this time the weather change was really getting to me, I was exhausted and desperately needed to wash up with cold water. We had refreshments and lunch at Besham, prayed Dhuhr. 7 am to 2 pm we drove from Islamabad to Besham. We thought it was almost over, but we had another 10 hours to go until our next stop!

Keep on Reading!

Northern Pakistan: Part 1 Days 1 and 2


I’m just going to start with pictures because… I’ll probably get over my writer’s block that way? Enjoy! 


the boys’ bags: mus-haf to revise their memorization, a cap, hand sanitizer, extra pair of socks and a change of clothes, Geronimo Stilton & The Kingdom of Fantasy, a punchy thingy, glasses, toothbrush, glasses case plus their goody bags!


giant marshmallows that could double up as pillows, Reese’s, mini M&Ms, Kinder surprise egg, Kiri cheese snack, gummy bears, mint gum, watermelon gum, Cola lollipops

Keep on Reading!

Chapter on the Poetry that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam enjoyed



 عن جندب بن سفيان البجلي قال: أصاب حجر إصبع رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم فدميت فقال

ِهل أنتِ  إلا إصبع دميتِ * و في سبيلِ الله ما لقيت

Chapter on the Poetry that the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam enjoyed

Jundub ibn Sufyan al-Bajali said, a rock injured the finger of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and it bled so he said,

“Are you anything but a finger that is bleeding

And all that you encounter is for the sake of Allah”

(Bukhari, in the Book of Jihad and the Book of Manners, and Muslim in the Book of Jihad)

Benefits from the Hadith:

1- This is a verse of poetry from ‘Abdullah ibn Rawaahah who was killed in the battle of Mu’tah and was one of the Sahabah who was the third-in-command in the battle after Zaid Ibn Haarithah and Ja’far ibn Abi Talib . He said these verses in preparation for the severity of the situation on the battleground, almost as though he was encouraging himself to move forward and denounce cowardice. 

2- The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam found pleasure in poetry that endorsed patience and other noble qualities or contained the praise of Allah and other truthful speech.  


Chapter on the Style of the Jokes of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam



باب ما جاء في صفة مزاح رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم

  !عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قالوا: يا رسول الله إنك تداعبنا

قال: نعم غير أني لا أقول  إلا حقًا

(حديث حسن صحيح)

Chapter on the Style of the Jokes of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

 Abu Hurayrah radhiallahu ‘anh said: it was said to the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “Oh Messenger of Allah, do you (really) joke with us?” He replied, “Yes, except I don’t say anything but the truth.”

1- The “truth” here refers to honest speech. Refraining from lying, backbiting, exaggerating, mimicking and breaking bounds when joking was the Prophet’s guidance on joking. These may seem like a lot of rules but they are ignoble characteristics that a Muslim has to refrain from. 

2- Jokes that cause malice and denote foolishness and stupidity are discouraged and denounced in Islam. There’s no point in saying something hurtful about someone and then try to patch it up by throwing your hands up in the air exclaiming, “But I was just joking!” or even worse, getting offended at their taking offence! Joking that causes sadness and separates people isn’t what Islam condones. 

3- It’s super important to watch what you’re saying when you feel humorous because there are times when people let their tongues slip blasphemous or disrespectful words out of ignorance that are very heavy and consequential in actuality. An example of this is in this hadith: 

`Abdullah bin `Umar said, “During the battle of Tabuk, a man was sitting in a gathering and said, “I have never seen anyone like these reciters of ours! They have the hungriest stomachs (they are gluttonous), lying tongues and are the most cowardly in battle.” A man in the Masjid said, “You lie. You are a hypocrite, and I will surely inform the Messenger of Allah.” This statement was conveyed to the Messenger of Allah and also a part of the Quran was revealed about it. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar said, “I saw that man afterwards holding onto the reigns of the Messenger’s camel while stones and dust were falling on him, declaring, “O Allah’s Messenger! We were only engaged in idle talk and jesting,” while the Messenger of Allah was reciting,

 وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّمَا كُنَّا نَخُوضُ وَنَلْعَبُ قُلْ أَبِاللَّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ وَرَسُولِهِ كُنتُمْ تَسْتَهْزِؤُونَ

لاَ تَعْتَذِرُواْ قَدْ كَفَرْتُم بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ إِن نَّعْفُ عَن طَآئِفَةٍ مِّنكُمْ نُعَذِّبْ طَآئِفَةً بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ مُجْرِمِينَ

“Was it Allah, and His Ayat and His Messenger that you were mocking? Make no excuse; you disbelieved after you had believed, if We pardon some of you, We will punish others among you for not all of you will be forgiven, some will have to taste the torment” [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

:قال عمرو بن العاص

ما كان أحد أحب إلي من رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم و لا أحلى في عيني منه و ما كنت أطيق أن أملأ عيني منه إجلالا له  و لو قيل لي صفه لما إستطعت أن أصفه لأني لم أكن أملأ عيني منه

‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas radhiAllahu ‘anhu used to say: I could not look him in the eye because of awe. If I were to be asked to describe him I would not be able to, because I could not look him in the eye. (Saheeh Muslim)

بأبي أنت و أمي يا رسول الله.. صلى الله عليه و على آله و صحبه و سلم

May my mother and father be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alahi wa salam)

 – The Sahara Bloggers (Umm Saifullah)