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 



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 Clothing of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam



باب ما جاء في لباس رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم

عن أبي سعيد الخضري رضي الله عنه قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا استجد ثوبا سماه باسمه، عمامة أو قميصا أو رداء، ثم يقول

((اللهم لك الحمد كما كسوتنيه، أسألك خيره وخير ما صنع له، وأعوذ بك من شره وشر ما صنع له))

(حديث صحيح)

Chapter on the Clothing of the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam

Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri Radi Allahu ‘Anhu reported that when the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wore a new garment, he would name it: a turban, or a shirt or a cloak, and then he would supplicate: “Oh Allah, all praise is for You that You have granted it to me (literally: clothed me with it), I ask You for it’s goodness and the goodness for which it was created, and I seek Your protection from it’s harm and the harm for which it was created.” 

*Abu Dawud, in the Chapter of Dress 

*According to Tirmidhi the hadith is Hasan Ghareeb Saheeh, likewise Ibn Hiban, Ahmad, Ibn Sa’d and Abu Al Shaikh. According to Abu Dawud, when the Companions of Rasulallah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would wear a new garment it would be said to him: 

تبلي و يخلف الله تعالى 

May you wear it until it gets old and used, and may Allah replace it for you thereafter.

*According to Albaani the chain of narrators is strong. 

Benefits from the hadith:

1- The Arabic word استجد means to acquire something new. In this case, a new garment.

2- According to Imam Al Nawawi, this dua’a should be recited even in the case of shoes or socks, or something similar to that.


Gems and Jewels at Masjid Al Bara’


Probably one of the most exciting things we’ve done together. Probably something we would never do if we had too much time to plan. This was over a year ago but we were too caught up to post, oops. 

We got an invitation to Masjid al Bara’a from F. Pango, a current student at Umm Al Qura University in Makkah. Our daily commutes together in her family car gave us time for a lot of discussions in between cramming for exams or desperately trying to translate an antiquated piece of Arabic poetry or prose; the letters, words and vowels slipping off our tongues. Every single day was exciting and different for each of us, the only thing that brought us together was the zeal to master this language with perfection. It was one of these days when our discussions took a random turn to the hijab. We sort of touched on our hijab stories, and how our cultural variations affected our ability and motivation to practice this essential aspect of Islam. I think we probably got really side-tracked by this particular topic because its so big with us, especially as Niqabis (and as odd as it sounds, no, it is not easy even in Saudi Arabia.)

Talking about some of the excuses and baseless refutations made by women who just cannot bring themselves to practicing Hijab, most of us having made the same ones but finally overcoming them, we verbalized some counter-arguments and came up with some awesome resolutions and conclusions that would never have crossed our minds otherwise. All of us had started Hijab a long time ago but it’s never just a one-step process. There’s a lot more to the Hijab than just covering your hair, or wearing longer, looser clothes, or even covering your face! Some women have roller-coaster Hijab stories, while some find it to be a smooth transition. There are incidents that make you doubt your decision, and incidents that make you feel like an ambassador of Muslim women all over the world, and then there are just some random, uneventful and boring incidents such as not finding a Hijab pin and getting frustrated. There are people that make you feel unworthy, backwards, and even… ugly, and then there are people that treat you like a queen. Sometimes these are people that you really care about, and sometimes they are strangers that leave an impression and a mark that will never leave you. In the end all of these bits and pieces need to be sorted and sifted through to come to a final and concrete resolution about why you choose the Hijab as a lifestyle and not just as a religious obligation.


F.P told us about a group of women and girls that her family had volunteered to teach at Masjid Al Bara’ situated in their neighborhood. The Filipino community is so well-known for their characteristics of unity, open-mindedness and a motivation to learn. F.P and her family had been administering Quran halaqas for age groups starting from about five onwards. 

The invitation was an event that Fatimah wanted to plan for WHD at the Masjid. Yes, we don’t need a singled out time of the year to raise awareness about the Hijab, but seizing this opportunity to have an open discussion with her group of girls at the Masjid seemed like a really good idea. I got to work immediately. Limited resources, limited time, limited abilities. Niqabinja and I brainstormed over the phone since we didn’t have enough time to have a face-to-face discussion. I took up responsibility for handouts, while Niqabinja took up our speeches (and transport!), and F.P  was all set and ready with event coordination and supplies. 

The talk was hurried and we were both really flustered, since we hadn’t practiced anything. We got there at around Maghrib time and gathered everyone right after Salah. It was an altogether exhilarating experience, standing there watching young faces ease into the speech as we made it a point not to be preach-y. 🙂 We acted out a play and then took up questions for discussion, most of which demanded a lot of vulnerability, openness, empathy and support. To make these girls IDENTIFY themselves as devoted Muslims, to help them find freedom, honor, dignity, respect, empowerment and FAITH, to make them understand that it’s not an easy step but it’s definitely worthwhile. We had a short Q & A session and had discussions with the girls about Hijab in extended family gatherings, Hijab in the West, faith and fashion, and the criteria for correct Hijab according to Shari’a principles. 


 The best part is that they catered to a minority group that actually wants and is in need of valuable, authentic Islamic education and an environment in which they may learn and grow as Muslims. This is always a huge problem for foreigners living in Middle-East countries, and there aren’t many options available due to language barriers. This hinders some people and slows them down, while it gives other people the opportunity to innovate and be an asset to their minority group just like the entire Pango family is. Having learnt and obtained  substantial knowledge of Arabic, Tajweed and also having Quran memorization experience; they fit into the teacher roles perfectly and do their job so faithfully and diligently, it is inspiring beyond belief, masha Allah. It was such an honor to interact with them and connect at a deeper level-hearing their views and concerns, getting to know their struggles and experiences. 

 Yeah so that was awesome. 😀 A lot has happened since then. We’ll pour it in slowly I guess. Right, Niqabinja? Psssssssssssstt.. hadith circles.

-Umm Saifullah


Reflections from Surah Hud: Ayah 96-102


1- The Story of Musa and Fir`awn 

2- The Lesson taken from the Destroyed Towns    

3- The Destruction of the Towns is a Proof of the Establishment of the Hour

Quran, Surah Hud, Ayat 96And indeed We sent Musa (Moses) with Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and a manifest authority;

Quran, Surah Hud, Ayat 97

To Fir’aun and his chiefs, but they followed the command of Fir’aun, and the command of Fir’aun was no right guide.

Musa ‘alayhissalam’s story is not mentioned much in this Surah.

Allah informs us of Musa ‘alayhissalam being sent to Bani Israel with clear proofs and signs, but they followed the ways of Fir’awn, of corruption, ignorance, tyranny, disbelief and misguidance, and this was not a path set right. They followed him, but he lead them to their destruction and they drowned. 


  Continue reading

Reflections from Surah Hud: Ayah 84-95



1- The Story of the People of Madyan and the Call of Shu`ayb ‘alayhissalam           

2- The Response of Shu`ayb’s People         

3- Shu’ayb’s Refutation of His People                        

4- Shu’ayb’s threatening of His People When Shu’ayb ‘alayhissalam despaired of their response


 Quran, Surah Hud, Ayat 84

And to the Madyan people (We sent) their brother Shu’aib. He said: “O my people! Worship Allah, you have no other Ilah (God) but Him, and give not short measure or weight, I see you in prosperity; and verily I fearfor you the torment of a Day encompassing.

Madyan was a place between the land of Al-Hijaz and Al-Sham, not very far from the Sodom where Lut ‘alayhissalam’s people were destroyed.

Shu’ayb ‘alayhissalam was an eloquent prophet, and was known as Khateeb Al Anbiya (The Orator of the Prophets). The power of speech was given to him and he would throw off any opponents during an argument or debate. He was also the best amongst them in lineage.

Continue reading

Youth Under the Shade Series Part Two: Yusuf ‘alayhissalam 05


images (1)


Yusuf is Rescued from the Well and sold as a Slave

(Surah Yusuf verses 19-22)

وَجَاءَتْ سَيَّارَةٌ فَأَرْسَلُوا وَارِدَهُمْ فَأَدْلَىٰ دَلْوَهُ ۖ قَالَ يَا بُشْرَىٰ هَٰذَا غُلَامٌ ۚ وَأَسَرُّوهُ بِضَاعَةً ۚ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ

And there came a caravan of travellers; they sent their water-drawer, and he let down his bucket (into the well). He said: “What good news! Here is a boy.” So they hid him as merchandise (a slave). And Allah was the All-Knower of what they did.

وَشَرَوْهُ بِثَمَنٍ بَخْسٍ دَرَاهِمَ مَعْدُودَةٍ وَكَانُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الزَّاهِدِينَ

And they sold him for a low price, – for a few Dirhams (i.e. for a few silver coins). And they were of those who regarded him insignificant.

After his brothers threw him down the well, they hung around for the whole day waiting to see what he might do and what might happen to him. They left at nightfall and he remained in the well for three days.

Continue reading

The Etiquette of Seeking Knowledge

This is a translation of the book “Aadab Al Mut’alimeen” by Dr. ‘Abdul Hakeem Anees.

Just tiny reminders for students of knowledge about the manners that they should be displaying towards the knowledge they are seeking, and towards those whom they are seeking it from, and towards the One for whom it is being sought.

These are manners that are taught by the Quran and the Sunnah, and were always implemented by the Sahabah radhiallahu ‘anhum and those who came after them… generations after generations of students.

It hurts to say that nowadays its very difficult to find people who beautify themselves with these characteristics… and that is why we’ve decided to remind ourselves. Hopefully it’ll be a fruitful task.

The Definition of Adab:

 There are many, many different interpretations of the meaning of the word:

1- Praiseworthy actions and words,

2- Restraining and purifying the soul from disliked actions and words

– The Sahara Bloggers (Umm Saifullah)

-Next week: The Importance of Adab