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 

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 

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)

Chapter on the Laugh of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam



 عن عبد الله بن الحارث بن جزء رضي الله أنه قال: ما رأيت أحدًا أكثر تبسمًا من رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم

Chapter on the Laugh of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

‘Abdullah ibn Al Harith radhiallahu ‘anh reported: I did not see anyone who would smile more than the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. 

Benefits from the Hadith:

1- Despite being burdened by the mission of spreading the Divine message and having to basically lead an entire new nation and all the difficulties that entails, the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had the courtesy to have a friendly, easy-going demeanor. 

2- Like the hadith of ‘Amr ibn al-Aas below states, people were generally in awe and intimidated by the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but this was always combined with an immediate feeling of ease and comfort due to the cordiality of his personality. 

3- In Surah al ‘Imran, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, 

(…فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظّاً غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لاَنفَضُّواْ مِنْ حَوْلِكَ)

“And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you…”(verse 159)

4- In other narrations, the Sahabah radhiallahu ‘anhum reported that the laugh of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was not more than a smile i.e. he smiled more than he laughed.

: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)

Chapter on the Speech of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam




باب كيف كان كلام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم

عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت: ما كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم يسرد كسردكم هذا و لكنه كان يتكلم بكلام بين فصل يحفظه من جلس إليه

(حديث صحيح)

Chapter on the Speech of Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam

‘Aishah radhiallahu ‘anha is reported to have said: “The speech of Rasulallah salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was not quick and continuous like yours. He spoke clearly, word for word. Those who sat with him remembered (literally: memorized) what he said.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud in the Book of Knowledge)

Benefits from the hadith:

1- The Arabic word يسرد here means to speak continuously without a pause between sentences and words. 


Chapter on the Reclining of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam



باب ما جاء في تكأة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم

:عن أبي جحيفة وهب بن عبد الله رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم 

لا آكل متكئا

(رواه البخاري)

Chapter on the Reclining of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

Abu Juhayfah radhiallahu ‘anh reported that Rasulallahu sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “I do not eat reclining (against something). (Bukhari)

Benefits from the hadith:

1- This hadith usually gets categorized in the etiquette of eating, which is where it shows up in Saheeh Bukhari. 

2- It is undesirable to lean against a pillow or any other support while eating.

: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)

Guest Post: I Used to be Muslim

I used to be Muslim, but I recently converted to Islam.
“The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 74
        Some of you share my story, and some of you had a different one. Regardless of your past, I am writing this to bring an important matter into your attention.
Identity card:
Name: Afnan Linjawi
Date of birth: 04/06/1992
Location of birth: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Country of residence: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Religion: Islam
Mother tongue: Arabic
Worst fears: I think I’m Muslim, but then die and find out that I never was!
        If you were born in the 90s and in the Middle East – I was at the heart of it- then you will remember 9/11, Khalij War, Palestine, Mohammad Durrah, President Bush, and raucous bickering politicians and spokesmen on Arabic TV shows on Al-Jazeerah.
        I was born into war. It was the first thing I learn about our world. I quickly learnt through school the following things: I am Saudi, I am Arabic, I am Muslim, Islam is my history, I am one of the luckiest people in the world because I am all of the previously mentioned, and the world hates me for my religion and my wearing of the head scarf will make people in US, UK, and France hit me.
        I spent a great deal of my childhood preparing myself to be the monster Western media described me. You see, this is not what happened to most kids. Most kids understood that they were just kids, I didn’t. Most kids developed an ability called ignorance. I was too precocious and observant for my own good.
        But a part of the 90s was also not my fault. Hatred was forced upon me! I went to school in the mornings and Islam teachers would make us feel so guilty for having a happy life. They would say things such as: you don’t realize the blessing you have, kids in Palestine dodge bombs to get to school. I felt like I was a mockery. I wanted to go to Palestine with the flag of Islam and fight until I die.
After school I would go to buy some sweets with my dad at the grocery stores, and by the cashier you would find a photo of people dying on top of a box of riyals for charity. I was frustrated. Why isn’t anyone doing anything? Why do I have to feel like my life was a mistake! My soul should have been given to the person that will bring peace to the world, while I’m craving candy.
        I promised myself then, that the least I can do is read the Quran every day and pray all of my Faraidh and Sunnah. And that is exactly what I did. I would come home, lock myself in the room and cry while reading the Quran. I did not cry because I felt for the people that were dying, I cried because the world did not make sense and I didn’t know what was I supposed to do. When I would try to figure it out and ask my parents and school, they all had the same answer: nothing! They would tell me to do nothing. They would say “you’re just a child”, “you can’t fight an army”, or they would disregard my concerns completely. This was crazy, why do you tell me that I don’t know how to be grateful for what I have and then ask me to remain that way!
        Anyways, after that I went into middle school. On the first day of 8th grade, I wore my first Abaya and Tarha. I was officially covered. That is the moment when a Muslim girl feels closer to Allah and proud of following her religion. I wanted to be closer to Allah, in fact I wanted to just die at that moment out of fear that I might one day miss a prayer or show my hair, so I’d be less pure. At that moment, I felt the purest. Out of excitement and my will to obey Allah, I told my parents I want to cover my face and wear a Niqab. They gave me a big fat NO!
        I was shocked to be honest, considering that my mother wears the Niqab. But they were right. I wasn’t wearing it for the right reasons. I would have never taken it seriously.
        Soon after, I turned 16. My body started to change and I began to be interested in other people. As any girl, at that age I wanted guys to think I’m beautiful and irresistible. At that moment, I realized that one day I am going to be a wife and a mother. My poor husband will be stuck with a belligerent wife who thinks she’s the ninja that will save Palestine. My poor children will have a mother who has no teachings to give, message to pass, or hope to grant. And for that, I cried my heart out.
        I began to pray to Allah every night that somehow someone would love me and that somehow and in some place I will do good. I will do great and be great. It was two years later, when I turned 18, that I decided for the first time in my life to give the world a genuine smile. I laughed before, but I made sure to cry afterwards. I felt so guilty for feeling happy while others were miserable.
        At 18 I decided to change. It was about time. I had to stop hating. It was hurting the people around me and after 18 years of hate, I did not achieve a thing. By common sense, you create change by adding, deleting, and replacing. So I looked at my life so far and decided to add naiveté, simplicity, and positivity. I decided to replace my trademark frown with a smile. And I decided to delete the hate once and for all.
        Sadly, the hate, to me, was connected to religion. It came from it. I had to distance myself somehow. I stopped reading Quran altogether. I stopped praying Sunnah, I stopped pronouncing the name of Allah when I did not have to. I still stuck to the five pillars because I didn’t want to desert my religion. I just knew I had to change my thoughts, habits, and routine completely.
        I got into university and busied myself as much as I can. I did not want to give myself a second to think, so I won’t go back to my old ways. I was literally running away from my past self.
        After giving myself three years of freely thinking with my own brain without anyone’s influence, I put my religion back as a guide and not as a commander. I made my Islam comfortable for me. I made Islam mine and unique to any other Muslim. I realized that just as scholars can interpret verses, I can too. No one will be able to guide me to the right path better than me. No one will be able to ask my questions but me.
        It was when I was a junior that I started to look around in my society. The so-called epitome of Islam and the so-called Muslims and descendants of the Prophet and his Companions. I looked at our traditions and customs. I looked at the lessons our elders gave us. I realized then that we are not a pure society, we are not a victim of a society, and we are not a veteran society at all. We are just simply a society.
        Here Islam is not what the Quran dictates. Islam here is what the economy dictates, what the people in power dictate, what the media dictates, and what traditions and customs dictate. A lot of “Muslims” here haven’t a clue about their religion. They defy it every waking hour on a daily basis, and they don’t even know it. That’s when I saw the greatest bigotry in Islamic history. That’s when I realized that there is only one pure Islam in the world for me, the Islam in my heart.
         The Prophet himself said: “No babe is born but upon Fitra. It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6426). It is my job and responsibility to maintain my Fitra. My society labeled me Muslimah, but it did not teach me Islam. It is my job to define my own Islam, because if I let the world define it, it has already taken it away from Fitra.
        Now, I have graduated from university and decided to convert to Islam. I decided to “read” the Quran and think about what it says. I decided to read about what other scholars published because I am actually interested in my religion. I decided to read other religions to understand mine.
        Most importantly though, I am enjoying the journey of discovery and the pursuit of knowledge.
– Afnan Linjawi (Guest writer)

Back to the Sahara

Dear Sahara Trekkers and Moonlit TrailBlazers!

Welcome back to the Moonlit Sahara! We’ve been on a long snore due to unavoidable circumstances (which happen quite often out here in the Sahara), but we’re as excited as you are to jump back into business. The Moonlit Sahara’s new look has motivated us to keep posting, and we hope it motivates you to keep reading! Insha’Allah commencing January we’ll be finishing up the  2 series we had started earlier this year including:

1- Youth Under the Shade Series: Extensive posts on the lives of some of the courageous youth who stood up for the truth and left a legacy to be carried on by the youth of today. Having discussed the lessons in the life of Ibrahim (AS) and now wrapping up the story of Yusuf (AS), drop by to see who our next hero is. Hint: Have your sword sharpened and armor ready!

2- The Hadith Series 1: Short and simple posts which extract lessons from authentic ahadith collected by Imam Al-Tirmidhi in his book, Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyyah.

So stay tuned and ride the dunes with us to make our Sahara a flourishing oasis of knowledge.  Your feedback is important to us and we’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Until the next sandstorm,

The Sahara Bloggers

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to be notified as soon as we post. Jazakum Allahu Khairan