Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

November 30, 2005

Jealousy and Envy; The Wolf Behind the Door

"There is no desirable form of jealousy except for two types: (1) a person to whom Allah has given the Qur'an and he recites it day and night, so when a person hears him he says, 'If only I were given the likes of what he has been given so that I may act upon it the way this person is.'; and (2) a person to whom Allah has bestowed wealth and he spends in the cause of Truth, so a person says, 'If only I were given the likes of what he has been given, so that I may act upon it the way this person is.'" [Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 544]  

And then there is undesirable envy, or jealousy. Jealousy and envy are among the most destructive emotions or feelings one can have towards another human being. They are often manifested as an evil wish towards others or in being happy when misfortune befalls them. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) warned against envy, He (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said:

"Beware of jealousy, for verily it destroys good deeds the way fire destroys wood." [Abu Dawood]

The one who is jealous, hating the favors bestowed by Allah (swt) upon someone else, is an oppressor (which is forbidden; Hadith Qudsi 17), and one who will go beyond bounds to act, dictated by jealousy, is deserving of punishment unless he repents. 

The one affected by the oppressor should be patient of the harm afflicted upon him by the one who is jealous, and he should forgive and overlook, just as Allah (swt) said,

"Many of the People of the Book wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves even after the truth has become clear to them. But forgive and overlook until Allah brings about His Command." [Surah al-Baqara 2:109]

"...Verily, he who fears Allâh with obedience to Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds), and is patient, then surely, Allâh makes not the reward of the Muhsinûn (good-doers - see v.2:112) to be lost." [Surah Yusuf 12:90]

As for the person who is tried and harmed for choosing obedience to Allah, then he will be rewarded for the actual trial and it shall be written as a righteous action for him. Allah, the Most High, said, "That is because they suffer neither thirst nor fatigue, nor hunger in the Cause of Allah, nor do they take any step to raise the anger of disbelievers nor inflict any injury upon an enemy but it is written to their credit as a righteous deed. Indeed Allah wastes not the reward of the doers of good." [Surah at-Taubah 9:120] 

Jealousy is a sickness of the heart and soul of mankind and few of us are secure from it. On finding envy or jealousy in our hearts we should strive to snuff it out and treat it with patience and taqwa of Allah (swt), for that which we do not act upon in speech or action cannot harm us. Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: Allah’s Messenger salla allahu alayhe wasalam said:

"Beware of oppression, for oppression will turn into excessive darkness on the Day of Resurrection; and beware of niggardliness, for niggardliness destroyed your predecessors." (Hadith 26:203; Muslim)

Commentary: This Hadith makes it abundantly clear that there will be utmost justice on the Day of Resurrection. So much so that Allah will redress even the grievance of the aggressed animals against the aggressors. Thus, this Hadith serves a severe warning for people. When animals, who are devoid of sense, will not be forgiven, how would mankind be, which is gifted with senses? The latter will not be pardoned if they are guilty of having been unjust to anyone without adequately compensating them.  

"Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Daybreak. From the evil of what He has created. And from the evil of the darkening (night) as it comes with its darkness. And from the evil of the witchcrafts when they blow in the knots. And from the evil of the envier when he envies." [Surah al-Falaq 113:1-5]

"By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, none of you believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." [Bukhari Volume 1 Book 2 Number 12 and Hadith Qudsi 13]

Compiled by ~Aishah Illustration from: Brothers Grimm. Grimms' Fairy Tales [Little Red Riding Hood]. Ella Dolbear Lee, illustrator. Chicago: M. A. Donohue & Co., 1920.

November 29, 2005

Announcing! Subscribe to Aishah's Islamic Journey!

Announcing a new addition to Aishah's Islamic Journey Blog! Now you can sign up to receive email notifications whenever updates are posted! Sign up today by entering your email address in the subscripton field found to the right of the page underneath the visitor counter. See you again soon, insha'Allah!

November 28, 2005

What Are You Grateful For Today? (11/28/05)

Al-hamdulillah for the Love and Mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and New York! A sister from New York that was at my wedding 2½ years ago jumped right on out there, and stood beside me for the second time today! Subhan'Allah! Big Hug Habibti! And another sister living in New York that will return to Alexandria in March (cannot wait to meet her in person!!), rang my eldest daughter for me tonight as a surprise, gave Ashley the information for a calling card over the phone, and just a few minutes later we spoke to one another for the first time since I arrived in Egypt this September! What a wonderful evening of surprise blessings! The best and sweetest thing of all was hearing the laughter of my grandson (who just turned two this past Friday), and the sound of his voice when his mom handed him the phone and he said, "I love you!" Subhan'Allah! The love and support from my two dear sisters and friends, was right on time today, and a reaffirmation that after every hardship comes ease. Al-hamdulillah. I am grateful today for my brothers and sisters in Islam who truly know my heart. Jazakallahu khayran for your support. Ma'Salaama, ~Aishah

November 24, 2005

Just a Rant...and Co-Rant...on The "H" Word

Assalamu Alaikum! I found an article today that will be inserted under my opening comments that neatly summed up for me exactly why I resist posting material on the subject of hijab. (Okay, I did post one...) You see, in addition to the comments made in the article, what we have to realize is that we cannot cram Islam down the throats of those exploring or coming into it, or those who have lived in Muslim families but are just coming to a point in their own lives, where they have decided for themselves to truly embrace and begin to practice their religion. There is not a single one of us on the planet that is on the same level of development in their deen. Not a single one! And when we engage in arguments over-who-is-right-or-wrong-and-who's-idea-of-whoever's-interpretation-of-whatever-proof-they-want-to-present-is-the-only-one-we-should-follow... Astafurgallah al-azeem! Are we really helping or pushing away the sisters that are seeking guidance? Some reverts take hijab (in whatever form is for them at the time) on the very same day that they make their Shahada, and some sisters never wear it a day in their lives! Does that mean one is right and one is wrong, or that one is going to the Paradise and one is going to the hellfire? Who are we to say!?! Only Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala knows!!! Do you realize that even in Egypt it was not so long ago that the percentage of women wearing hijab was so small that it was more common to not see it than to see it!?!? In Egypt today, Al-hamdulillah, it is clearly evident that the people are seeking a return to Islam, and hijab is everywhere, in every shape, style and color. Al-hamdulillah! I, for one, see this as a great progress! And yes, one may wear it with jeans, and one may wear it with a skirt, and one may wear it in jelbab and one may wear it with an abaya...BUT ALLAH SUBHANAHAU WA TA'ALA IS THE ONLY ONE WHO KNOWS OUR INTENTION!!! We must remember this first and foremost in our discussions, manners, and above all before we dare to spare one mili-second in judgment of another! As Muslims striving to perfect our deen we are all at different levels in our growth, so who are we to bemoan that this sister is wearing hijab one way, and that sister is wearing hijab another way, and that sister is not wearing it at all, and thereby judging that they are wrong just because they are not living up to our expectations in compliying with the multitude of varying interpretations of how we are to practice every single known facet of the religion??? Imagine how overwhelming this is to the new Muslimah?!?!? Al-hamdulillah that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is All-Knowing, Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful, Most Generous and Most Patient...just to name a few of the 99 different adjectives attributed to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala!

Food for thought: The Qur'an is a Message from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala to humanity. It was transmitted to us in a chain starting from the Almighty Himself (swt) to the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (saas). It took 23 years (610 CE to 622 CE) to complete the revelation of the Qur'an; this in and of itself, is a perfect example of how long we might consider it could possibly begin to take for a revert or person just beginning to embrace Islam from his/her heart to fully develop in the deen! But honestly? Perfecting our deen is a lifelong process if you really think about it.

So imagine the revert who is bombarded in his/her first days, weeks, months, the first brothers and sisters telling them, you have to do this, and you have to do that...and all now! Imgaine if we truly knew the rate at which Islam loses reverts because of this bombardment of information and demands?!?!

We need to step back sometimes and consider at what point our discussions and arguments are doing more harm than good; bottom line.

And that's the end of my rant...I'll turn it over now to the sister who wrote the blog post from Living Tradition. Outside of what I just said, what she said wraps it up pretty tight. (continued here) Copyright © 2005 Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

November 21, 2005

What Are You Grateful For Today?

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuhu! Today I was sooooooooo happy! Al-hamdulillah! And therefore I am officially launching the "What Are You Grateful for Today" post that my e-group members have now grown use to seeing pop into their inbox's now and again. It just serves as a reminder of the many blessings that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala bestows upon they big or small; sometimes it's the little things in life that mean the most. And today was one of those days. After only being able to speak to my heart-adopted daughter, Hanane (from Morocco) only one time during all of Ramadan, this morning the phone rang just shortly after fajr. With the hour being what it was...something told me that the call was for me. My mother-in-law answered the phone. For a minute or two I held my breath as it seemed she was chatting away with someone and perhaps, after all, the call was not for me. But knowing Hanane as I do, I am sure she was just offering a healthy greeting with the foresight of knowing that the woman answering the phone was my mother-in-law. Al-hamdulillah, my husband finally re-entered our room, having also risen to see who the caller was, and announced that the call was for me; the caller being Hanane. It was so nice to hear her excited little voice and to finally get the long overdue report of her current status. She has just returned from Morocco after a three-month hiatus, and Al-hamdulillah, even though she was gone so long, her employer allowed her to come straight back to work; that is how much she is respected. Subhan'Allah. *grins a motherly grin* We spoke of so many things, and yet it seemed nothing at all when suddenly the beep came on the line and our conversation was interrupted so that a recording could gently prompt us that we had one minute left to chat. With promises to talk again soon, insha'Allah our call came to an end. Is there someone who would be just as happy to hear from you? What are you waiting for?!?! Pick up the phone...and CALL! Don't procrastinate another minute! Every minute that we are blessed to have life is a minute for which we should be thankful, as each minute is ripe with opportunities for good deeds; don't let another one pass you by...a missed opportunity is a missed blessing, indeed! Copyright © 2005 Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

November 19, 2005

"I'm a woman and I have a right to change my mind!"

I've been thinking a lot the last two days about the job I was offered this week, and it seems that I may be playing the, "I'm a woman and it's my right to change my mind" card. *lol* Life here in Egypt has been going along just fine without any added element potentially threatening to bring undue stress or strife into our lives, and thereby disrupting the balance of harmony we currently enjoy. I am perfectly content to be freely available and at the service of my husband and mother-in-law for whatever need they may have; I do it for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala – who is the Ultimate provider of all my needs, and upon whom I will continue to depend on to meet those needs, insha'Allah. My reward? The freedom of having the time to devote to my religion, and to taking care of my sisters; and to the writing that is a release for the boundless energy that leaps from my mind, through my fingers, onto my keyboard, and into the lives of the people I love for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And there could be no greater blessing than someday hearing that any one of my immediate family members (small though the circle may be), might come to know, love and embrace Islam, merely because they've followed my journey…and even if they couldn't see or find Islam anywhere else…at least they had an opportunity to find it here…and maybe that is the reason for the separation we endure today. May they always know how much I love them for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. Ameen. I also recall the sadness and emptiness I felt at different times when life got in the way of my ability to actively participate in the care and nurturing of the sisters in the e-group (S4D), and the sense of guilt that came along with that…knowing they are waiting for me always…subhan'Allah. There is also the 7-hour time difference between Egypt and the U.S. to consider, and how altering my schedule to accommodate working outside of home would affect my communications with friends and family. My husband is more inclined to think that it is the idea of having to report for duty at 8:00 AM that would dissuade me from taking the position, given my life-long propensity for running behind schedule. *lol* While that is something I would have to confront, the fact of the matter is, that if we put our minds to what we want to do, we generally succeed in achieving what we desire. I happen to have a life-long track record for that, so the starting time for my workday is not a primary factor in this decision. Al-hamdulillah, tonight the need to find some little thing to push me over the edge of making a final decision was fulfilled through the entry a new visitor on the website left in the guest book. The guest book entry read: I like the way you write. You are committed to your topics, thorough yet witty (sometimes downright hilarious) and entertaining. Keep up the good work! You see...its things like that, that'll make a person think twice about doing anything other than what they really enjoy. What I do is for a greater good, and it affects the lives of others in a positive and constructive way for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. My husband is always saying, "Allah bless you, Aishah." What greater blessing could there be? So to my husband I say, "Thank you for your generosity in allowing me to feel free to pursue what I do best. May Allah reward you with the success you seek for doing that which you enjoy, as well. I love you for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala." ~Aishah

November 18, 2005

Souk Ala'deen a Poem by Julinar Diab

Souk Ala’deen By Julinar Diab Small Aisles Over priced nuts Under priced spices Overseas stashes Expired Chocolates & Oh Fine English Toffees A worldview of Teas A True Sight of Coffees Roll back a few centuries To Colonized India Less divided Arabia To Ancient Turkish Delights Persian & English Treasures The lights are not too bright One can actually breathe Home felt organic mom & pop They way they used to be Decorated prayer rugs wait Skull caps & Miswaks lay Hand carved Maa’moul wood moulds Unique tools for Stuffing Squash De-Tal, boot legged T- Fal Pure Nablis Olive Oil Surprise Soap Next to the Ghee, clarified Samneh See the Henna and Hindi smiling girls On the box of Body care from a different world There are no commercials To intrude into your space But wait! In the Freezer Sheep brains! How old are those? Does your Feta Contain hormones? We do not know... We might not perceive and they Do not enquire; they proceed "Ma Lesh" The Olive, prized by even the youth Kalimata, Greek or West Bank, Gaza? Soft and firm hand made Pita Asian Nan, Baladi, Date filled, Roti Syrian, Cumin, Coriander, Curry Lebnaniya, Pakistaniya, & Arabi Jasmin, Egyptian, Golden, Basmati Filled wafers from Croatia & Bosnia Can be a risk: check for softness They have a no-return policy. The backbone comfort smell-inducer Travels from the back kitchen ovens Out into the entrance seemingly indifferent She is from Baghdad, Babylon Baby gone, Cradle drawn Cooking, Serving, Smiling, Working I gaze into her Blue-Grey eyes They are a foot deep and a mile wide They have stories to tell I can hear them, illuminating all sides She won’t complain, she hides it well Behind the counter and the apron Is a waiting soul, with a warm grin Come Back Again… To Aladdin's Market Copyright © 2005 - Julinar Diab - All rights reserved. Join Islamic Writers or Islamic Writer's Alliance.

Scenes From an Afternoon Walk - 11/18/05

I went down to the souk this afternoon to fetch some of that famous grilled chicken one of the vendor's down there does ever so nicely, masha'Allah! Well, while I was waiting for my order, I walked across from the shop to the sidewalk where I noticed there were a few empty chairs and a short, small, square-topped table. Deciding to just relax while I waited, I selected a chair and sat down. It was just a few minutes later that I could not help but notice that immediately to my left, but up from me just a little higher, sat four men enjoying an afternoon game of dominos. Subhan'Allah...the scene just begged to be photographed, so I stood, and removing my camera from it's little carrying pouch, I pantomined my indication to them that I would like to take a photo of them sitting together at their table, enjoying their hot tea and taking turns smoking this pipe thing (my husband is asleep and I can't ask him to remind me what the actual name of it is right now; if I get back to this later I will update the post to insert the correct term). They gestured back to me in reply indicating, "Permission granted!" and I snapped the shot. And there you have it...a lazy Jummah afternoon down at the souk with friends. Subhan'Allah. Next up is your neighborhood Egyptian Dry Cleaners. *lol* You'll enjoy this one...the question of the day being...what do they do if it rains? Well, the good news doesn't rain much here in Alexandria - and if it does...well, that's just a good excuse for a nice cup of hot tea! This is a shot of a busy intersection in Samoha, very similar to many seen in the in D.C., and almost identical to one back home called, "Five Points". What caught my eye was the masjid. Al-hamdulillah. Ah, and now we have Garfield's cousin; Cranky Sam. *lol* I spotted this orange beauty sitting on the ledge of a third floor balcony. Well, seeing a domesticated cat for the first time called for a photo, to be sure! This guy is just as irritated as I am that he can't catch a good nap because of all the street noise! Is that face priceless or what? As I approached the front of the apartment building where I live...well...there he was right in front of me, curled up, sound asleep...the homeless kitty. Unlike Cranky Sam, this little guy didn't have a care in the world; and could certainly care less about anything that might have been going on around him. Subhan'Allah! Now this little guy I was jealous of! *lol* Copyright © 2005 - Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

Oh My! Did I REALLY Accept a New Job?

Sunday will be my first day at a nearby private school teaching English to Egyptian kindergarten students! And how, exactly did I get roped into that? Only Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala knows! All I can say is I'll give this teaching thing a shot...I figure if nothing else it'll give me plenty of writing material! If I am able to fit writing into my schedule! Ugg! You know I am SERIOUSLY having issues with this! I am in a different mode now...I hit a comfort zone...I am content! Subhan'Allah. And why is it exactly that I am inviting stress into my life again? Twenty 4 & 5 year olds with names I will have an aneurysm trying to learn and as many sets of parents?? Hello!!! What am I thinking?!!? Calgon take me away! My husband said the good news is that I don't have to work...Al-hamdulillah...imagine that...for the first time in my adult life, and after having spent 22-years of it working...someone is telling me I don't have to...and I'm gonna do it anyway? I need serious help! laughs@self. Wallahi, all I know is that the door just fell flat open in front of it must be a sign. Guess all I can do now is say "Bismillah" and go! is 1:30 am Saturday...Sunday is already tomorrow!! Oh, my! PLEASE make dua for me sisters!!!! Heads up! I am updating the blog momentarily with some new photos in the latest of my "Scenes from an afternoon walk" post. I'm thinking to keep the recurring title and just add a new date to it so that anytime someone wants to visit the blog just to check for the new Egypt photos, they'll be able to find them easily, insha'Allah. Still got that darn "Faith of a Rabbit" article to write that is pounding away at my brain saying, "Let me out! Let me out!" I have an incredible photo that I took down at the souk last week to go with it, that is actually the inspiration for the story...*sigh*...time is slipping away...whah!!!!! Ma'Salaama, ~Aishah (Follow-up to this post located here.) Copyright © 2005 Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

November 15, 2005

A Sad But True...Ramadan Survey

Usually when I am on Yahoo messenger my status is invisible. The reason for that is because if I make my presence known, I might as well just be in a position to sit in for the long-haul because I'll be working about 5 or 6 windows at a time for the next couple hours! *lol* But sometimes I like to let people know I'm out there because I have the time, and it is nice to catch up with everyone. However, invariably, after you've logged into available status, that's when, the uninvited, non-contact 'guests' decide to 'pop-in'. Now, to give Yahoo credit, they also automatically make very visible access to ways of blocking, viewing profiles, or even reporting intruders as spam. That's all well and good. But every now and then, short of the blocking or spam reporting, you get a persistent stream of these unwanted interruptions all because you've changed your status to allow your friends to see that you are online! So this past week (it was actually about October 23rd through the 30th, 2005), I just got curious, and started observing the flies landing in the proverbial web...and began asking questions, in my own little 'survey' of sorts. Of course, every one of these uninvited guests is male. Al-hamdulillah, the majority of uninvited guests respond in the affirmative when asked if they are Muslim. Surprisingly, when asked if they are married, when I would expect them to say no, they respond in the affirmative! Kudos to them! Al-hamdulillah, again, to the guys, when they respond affirmatively to the question of whether or not they are fasting; the majority were, indeed, fasting. And then I let them know: (1) I am also Muslim; (2) I am married; and (3) I am also fasting. At which point the nice practicing Muslim brother would politely bow out of the would think, eh? But the intruding guest persists..."Can we still talk?" "Can I get to know you better?" "Where do you live?" "What's your name?" and the like... Ugg! P-l-e-a-s-e!!! So, to round the survey right on out, I politely go in for the kill. And just for fun, here are some of the reactions. Conclusion: In every corner of the world there is a mission field... P.S. Above all, dear sisters…please beware of attempts by men like these who would endeavor to so easily lure you down a path that can lead to nothing good in the end… ===================================== VISITOR NO. 1 Visitor No. 1: hi hajjaaishah: hi hajjaaishah: Muslim hajjaaishah: Married Visitor No. 1: yes Visitor No. 1: i am muslim Visitor No. 1: divorced no kids hajjaaishah: misunderstood. I'm sorry. What I was conveying to you is that I am Muslim and I am married. Visitor No. 1: i knew what u stating by ur talk Visitor No. 1: i answered u back ..stating about me Visitor No. 1: do u have kids hajjaaishah: Umm...are you fasting this Ramadan? Visitor No. 1: yes Visitor No. 1: what about u ? hajjaaishah: Al-hamdulillah (for you) and yes (for me) hajjaaishah: Let me ask you a question. Visitor No. 1: ask hajjaaishah: If your wife were sitting at home and a strange man invited her to chat, would you be happy with that? hajjaaishah: (just curious) Visitor No. 1: see to talk frankly speaking Visitor No. 1: some husbands would agree for it as a game for joke hajjaaishah: like playing with fire? Visitor No. 1: ya hajjaaishah: Well, last time I checked...he who plays with fire gets burned. hajjaaishah: Personally, I'm striving for Jannah. hajjaaishah: I suggest you find something more constructive to do with your time this Ramadan, insha'Allah. hajjaaishah: May Allah subhanaahu wa ta'ala forgive you. Visitor No. 1: may i ask u a question ? Visitor No. 1: why u r here Visitor No. 1: ? hajjaaishah: I have a sisters e-group online. It has 172 members. Generally when I am online I chose to use the "invisible" status. But from time-to-time I allow myself to be visible in order to receive message from the sisters and other friends and family THAT ARE ON MY CONTACT LIST. You are not on my contact list; you are an uninvited intruder. And it is people like you that need something more constructive to do with their time. hajjaaishah: Try Salah hajjaaishah: That should keep you busy hajjaaishah: May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala guide you to the straight path. hajjaaishah: Ma'Salaama. Visitor No. 1: bye Additional survey results (14 total) can be viewed by clicking on the title to this post. Copyright © 2005 - Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

November 14, 2005

Prelude to a Shahada Story - Part Two

See post from Sunday, Nov. 13, 2005 for Part One or click on story title for link to permanent page for full story. Continuing where the poem left off... At the conclusion of the most beautiful and undeniably happiest year of my life, wallahi, my handsome pilot passed by me on the sidewalk one day between classes; he walking towards his dorm, me walking towards mine, which also happened to be in the direction of the campus chapel... [Sidebar: I didn't mention this before but I was raised Christian and had made a conscious decision to practice Christianity from the age of 11. This morphed into my attending Christian High School my junior and senior years, which led to my attendance at Cedarville University (Baptist), in Cedarville, Ohio.] ...What stood out as we passed by one another was the fact that he had he had not noticed me at all, his gaze towards the ground as he strode slowly, and silently in the opposite direction. I continued on my own path for several more steps, but the overwhelming compulsion to turn around and call after him overtook me. I turned around, and thankfully, there was scarcely anyone else on the same path, and I called out his name. There was a moment of hesitancy in his stride, as on hearing my voice, he glanced over his shoulder. Turning to face me, we began slowly walking toward one another. As he presented himself to me with downcast eyes, I prodded his attention with my gentle inquiry, "Is something wrong?" Little did I know...little did I know. He replied, "Yes." I offered, "Do you want to talk?" My question was silently answered as we began to slowly make our way toward the chapel. The auditorium was sparsely occupied and we found a quiet spot to sit down. (continued...) Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

November 13, 2005

Prelude to a Shahada Story - Part One

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuhu. The other day I was chatting with a young woman from India who has asked me if I would be her writing mentor. Subhan'Allah, I was flattered, to say the least! In response to her asking me if I had ever written poetry, my mind drifted back. Before I moved to Washington, D.C. back in 2000, I did, indeed, have a book of poetry. It was a hard-cover, red volume with once blank pages. Through the years, from the time I was in the 5th grade in elementary school all the way through my sophomore year at University (when I lost my inspiration), I had, one by one, filled almost all of the book's pages. It was really something when my teenage daughter, Ashley, so many years later, found the book and began keeping it with her, reading each page over and over. Sometimes I found her keying the text into a document on the computer; or writing them over in one of her school notebooks. She never spoke to me of her feelings about the book, but I imagined it came as somewhat of a surprise to her that she found within its contents thoughts and feelings expressed from the heart of her mother, that she, herself, had also begun to feel (she was, Al-hamdulillah a late bloomer, and likely cringing as she reads this). *wink* Sadly, the book of poetry was lost somewhere in the transition of my move from South Carolina to the District of Columbia. I have, from time-to-time grieved its loss, but as I once said to my husband, it is my idea that in Jannah, my beloved horse, Christy, will greet me, insha'Allah. I will climb up on her back with the same ease as when I was just 15, and we will ride together for miles along the most beautiful shoreline imaginable (an unfulfilled fantasy). And during our walk Christy will recite back to me the poems of my book (existing at that phase of my life), that I used to recite to her on the lazy afternoons we spent together walking the trails in the nearby woods of the little community in Michigan where I lived during those lazy, carefree summer days of my high school years. So, anyhow, just a few minutes ago, I was lying down with part of my sweater over my head, trying to recover from a terrible headache, when suddenly one of the poems flooded back into my mind. I sat up with a start, determined to record the poem before memory escaped me once again. (continued...) Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

November 12, 2005

Hijab in the Workplace

When I embraced Islam in April of 2002, I was still working away in the litigation department of a busy downtown Washington, D.C. lawfirm just four blocks from the White House.

During the first year-and-a-half that I worked with the firm I was just your regular American female dressing casual/professional for the office, always wearing my hair nicely styled, meticulously applied makeup, and sporting nails that were freshly manicured every other week in correlation with my pay dates. *lol* (Toes included!) 

So imagine being the proverbial "fly on the wall" the day I first walked into the offices where I was working wearing jelbab and hijab! It was the most incredible experience!

On the morning that I made the decision to wear my hijab to work a sign that I was doing the right thing came as I approached the mammoth glass doors to the main lobby of the office building.

As I reached to pull open one of the doors, the door opposite to me on the left began to push open simultaneously, and while everything that happened in those few moments passed so quickly that I did not even get a good glimpse of the person who spoke to me, barely even having a chance to respond because I was so stunned, what I heard clear as day were the words, "Assalamu Alaikum!" Subhan'Allah! That was the last thing I had expected to hear!

But, Al-hamdulillah, words and images that will remain forever embedded in my memory as I walked across the lobby, entered the mirrored elevator, pressed the "6" button for my floor, and gazed at my reflection on the elevator wall. My cheeks were flushed and my heart was racing as I contemplated what would happen once the doors opened and I stepped out...but having heard those words, I felt more like Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala was with me more than ever...and I was confident that I had made the right choice.

Thank goodness I chose my first day as one of the days in the middle of my boss's vacation because for the next two days I couldn't get one bit of work done for answering questions! Al-hamdulillah!

I never felt such wonderful support for a decision in my entire life! I was astounded! The reaction of my colleagues spoke volumes for the "diversity" policy that the firm is so well known for! Al-hamdulillah! Insha'Allah sisters young and old, new and re-newed (*smile*) you will wear your hijab with confidence, too! 

Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

Scenes from an afternoon walk...

This is a view from down the street where we live. The new construction on the left is the new apartment building where we will, insha'Allah one day have a sea-front view from our apartment on the top floor! *one can always dream!* This is a shot of the local magazine and newspaper stand on a shady corner just down from where we live. You can walk up, take your donkey up, or drive up! *lol* This is a neighborhood *strip mall* (as we call them in the U.S.) set in the lower level floors of three apartment buildings sandwiched together. Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

November 09, 2005

~*Sister Aishah's Journey Continues...Post Ramadan Blues...*~

Wow...I knew I was feeling sad about Ramadan leaving before it left, but now that it and Eid are behind us...the blues have hit full force! *sighs* We arrived in Egypt just a couple of weeks before Ramadan started. So, those first days were spent in getting caught up on sleep, getting sick and getting rid of our colds, familiarizing ourselves with the apartment and the neighborhood, etc. Ramadan's arrival finally put us into a routine. It was a happy routine. I liked it. It promoted togetherness and bonding. It was also nice because during that time my husband didn't work and he got to spend a lot of time talking and catching up on family news with his mother. I think she liked that too. *wink* With the passing of Ramadan came new schedules. Ugg. My husband has returned to work. We're floating back into our old routine of eating sporadically and working long hours. The adjustments have become obvious and there were even moments over the past few days when I felt I might not ever sleep. It seems that the area where we live is awake 24-7 and noises of various kinds can be heard constantly. Last night at 3 AM I gathered from the shouting that a nearby father and daughter were having a disagreement. Night before that a baby cried non-stop for at least an hour-and-a-half; I could only imagine its little eyes swollen shut from crying so hard and long...if its mother was asleep, I want whatever it was that she took before she went to bed! Then there is the equally sleepless toddler living in the apartment above us who runs back and forth across its entire length non-stop. Thank goodness that little tyke doesn't have a twin...or does he??? Let me also tell you how many times a day my ears witness a car accident, or wildly screeching tires from out on the beach highway just a few blocks from where our apartment building sits; I cringe every time waiting for the sound of an impact.

Car horn honking. If I ever thought the amount of horn honking was bad in KSA, let me tell you something. Here the language of horn honking is spoken almost more than Arabic!! Unbelievable the amount of it!!! My favorite form of noise pollution comes from the neighbor that clears his throat 5,000 times a day. I'm not kidding folks. Like the sound of someone gagging and almost throwing up that much makes me wonder what is left of the inside of his esophagus! Brother, p-l-e-a-s-e!!! Get help! So, during this time of re-adjustment I have basically fallen asleep once my brain and body get flat worn out. One day I sleep about 2 hours and the next day I sleep 10-12. *lol* Yea, nuts, eh? The only salvation I can find in getting to sleep is to have a fan running nearby. It generates what is called "white noise" which blocks everything else out of my head. Even the clock that chimes every hour-and-half hour from the living room! Al-hamdulillah! Then, of course, I have had to re-adjust to the amount of time my dh has to spend with me since his return to work. Yes, I'll have to admit I had become spoiled. I think mom had, too. Mom is also used to eating the larger meal of the day around 3:00 PM while dh and I don't usually eat until around 6:30 PM. I jokingly said to dh today, "I'll sit with you to eat one day, and then sit with mom to eat the next, etc." That eliminates either of them being the one that eats alone all the time. Am I diplomatic or what? *lol* It's turning out that mom and dh are the early birds, so they have a few minutes together in the morning when they take their tea and maybe eat some bread and cheese; that's the time when I am usually asleep. Al-hamdulillah. But, so as to not leave you feeling too sorry for me *she says tongue-in-cheek*, today was better, overall. I whined to dh a little bit and he spent some time with me *lol* - and the three of us had tea in the living room this evening where we have now moved the TV for the winter months since the sitting area in mom's room is colder in the evenings now that winter is approaching. It really (gosh, what's another word for 'sucks'??) that it's now getting dark outside at 6:00 PM. Anyhow, the highlight the evening came after dh went to his computer. Mom and I were left to watch TV. She always insists I take the remote control so I can find an English channel (she is so sweet); there are three channels that I surf between. *Wahoo!* Tonight I settled on an old episode of "My Wife and Kids". It had Arabic subtitles so I think mom was following along somewhat. The episode was minus the "Mrs." as she was on 'real life' maternity leave. In the storyline dad was taking care of the kids while mom was away taking care of their grandmother who had become ill. So, just toward the end of the episode there was a 'flash-back' sequence where the father was rewinding history to tell his youngest daughter, "Of course I remember when you were born!" The audience is subsequently presented with a vision of dad sitting on a chair in the living room reading the newspaper. A seriously pregnant looking wife is laid up on the sofa with a book; looking extremely miserable. Suddenly mom sneezes hard and the camera instantaneously flashes back over to the dad who catches a small, naked doll-baby over the top of his newspaper as if his wife had just thrown him a football!!! You should have seen mom's face!!! Talk about a Kodak moment!! I don't think she had ever seen anything like that in her life!!! She laughed! And I laughed! And we sat there together laughing to the point of mom catching the length of the scarf she was wearing to cover her mouth so she wouldn't laugh out loud! And she 'sneezed' again and waved her arm, reenacting the scene, and laughed some more! *lol* Oh, my goodness! The scene was priceless!

So, there you have it. All's well that ends well *smile* to get through life all you have to do is bounce. Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.

November 08, 2005

The Website is Back!!! (

I was scrolling down through one of my older stories this evening and as I came upon a link that went to a page loaded on the website, I decided to click on it just to see if the page would load...and, Al-hamdulillah!! It loaded! We're back online! Wahoo!!! Yippee!!! Horray!!! So, if you can't find it here, check on the website! Insha'Allah you will definitely find the older journey installments not yet on the blog.

November 07, 2005

Scenes from Ramadan - 1

It was much more impressive in person. Posted by Picasa

Scenes from Ramadan - 2

Before Ramadan disappears altogether, I just have to share a few photos... Posted by Picasa

Scenes from Ramadan - 3

My favorite neighborhood Ramadan lamp. Posted by Picasa

Wow...this was a learning experience!

I am beat. But I think I've got this figured out, for the most part. :-) So now I'm going to get some rest, insha'Allah. I am determined to tackle Yahoo in California later today. It's been five days now that I have been waiting for them to rectify the problem with my website. Grrrr...just plain makin' a sister cranky! On another note...November 8 was the day my grandmother was born. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala in His Most Infinite Mercy grant her the highest level in Jannah. Amin.

November 05, 2005

Every once in a husband is truly funny!

We were sitting in the parlor this afternoon; me at my laptop, dh and mom sitting to my left near the door of the balcony engaged in their usual lively conversation. I'll tell ya, those two can talk up a storm!! Having looked over her shoulder mom spotted a small bird sitting on the balcony floor just outside the door and apparently she had brought it to the attention of my husband, who stood to catch a look. He then turned and translated to me what was going on. I smiled thinking of the parakeets that mom has in three small cages sitting against the right wall of the balcony, and I said to my husband, "I wonder what the little bird thinks of the birds in the cage?" To which he promptly replied, "Guantanamo Bay!" Well, I just have to tell you, I fell flat out laughing.

November 03, 2005

~*Sister Aishah's Journey Continues...Eid in Egypt 2005*~

In the name of Allah, the Most-Merciful, the All-Compassionate November 3, 2005 Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatuallahi wa Barakatuhu! Like small children afraid to fall asleep in fear of missing something, my husband and I sat awake the entire night chatting, snacking, and just plain giddy with excitement knowing that in the morning it would be Eid! Al-hamdulillah! Not wanting to disturb our sleeping mom (well, his mom and my mil, but I've just taken to calling her mom!), my husband and I retired to our room which was nice, because his computer is set up at a small desk against the wall just to the right of the entrance, and beside the desk there is one of those tri-folded mattresses that we use for just sitting or taking a nap sometimes. Between the mat and the computer desk sits a small table onto which I had put out a tray of sweets and hot tea, and there we sat as the grandfather clock in the front room chimed away the hours until fajr. Logging into the messenger program on my laptop, it was really nice to find stateside friends online! There is a 7-hour time difference between Egypt and the U.S., so while it might have been like, 2:00 in the morning here in Egypt, it was only 7:00 pm there, and everyone was finishing their last iftar and praying Isha. The larger part of those wee morning hours was spent between two messenger chat sessions. The first session with a dear, dear friend in Washington, D.C., who was with me on the day that I met my husband in 2003. She and I had not had an opportunity to speak with one another in quite some time, and by the end of our chat, when I scrolled up to the top of the message screen to check the starting time of our conversation, and then scrolled back down to see the end time, I was amazed to find that we had been online together for two-and-a-half hours!! Subhan'Allah! *checks numb fingertips* The second chat was with another dear friend in Falls Church, Virginia. Al-hamdulillah, I met this sister after first embracing Islam and when I was living in KSA last year she and her husband came to Mecca for Umrah and she brought a large envelope full of mail from my P.O. box in D.C., and Al-hamdulillah, unbeknownst to me, the envelope contained two items that were of the highest importance! What a surprise and blessing! *smile* So, Al-hamdulillah, it was nice chatting with her on eve of Eid while she switched back and forth between the chat window and final preparations for her family's last iftar of Ramadan 2005. It was such fun! And her son, Ibrahim, who is so young but for some reason seems to remember me so well from our first meeting, subhan'Allah, messaged me a *hug*. Al-hamdulillah, that was so nice! Alas, the adhan for fajr finally sounded and shutting down our computers, we took a long stretch and prepared for salat. There wouldn't be much time after fajr until the Eid prayer scheduled for 6:40 am! I was thankful at the time that the Eid prayer was so early because after staying awake all night I was ready for a nap, but I settled instead for a steaming cup of coffee (which I had abstained from the entire month of Ramadan!!), and then set about trying to decide what to wear. You know women, even if we have a plan the night before it can be shot full of holes the next day if the wind blows just a little bit in the opposite direction! laughs@self!!! I had taken to heart the sunnah of wearing something nice to attend the Eid prayer, and upon presenting myself to mom, I was greeted with a smile of approval. Al-hamdulillah! My husband and I made our way to the masjid following the sound of the takbir's, masha'Allah. On arriving at the masjid my husband left my side to join the brothers and I set about in search of a familiar face or two that I could sit with amongst the sisters. However, it seemed that we had arrived a little late and I was stuck in an over-flow section outside the masjid, whereupon I did not find a single familiar face! Add to that the fact that I was surprised to find myself in, like, the 2% of sisters wearing a less than ordinary jelbab, making me feel oddly out of place, and yet sad a little bit as I then considered that some perhaps had worn their best, even if it was a warm-up suit or jeans with sneakers; and making a place for myself to sit down, I made a silent dua. After the Eid prayer the Imam gave a short talk and when it was finished, I stood by the wall of the passageway set up for the overflow, silently hoping to spot any one of the sisters I had met during the Taraweeh prayers. Just as I found my husband, my eyes also fell on the smiling face of Maha. Al-hamdulillah! I gave a wave to my husband, with an extended index finger to let him know I would be there in a minute, and I crossed through the street to greet my friend. Al-hamdulillah, I felt so much better having met at least one other person that I knew to which I could extend an enthusiastic, "Eid Mubarak!" As I finally rejoined my husband with the intention of heading back to our apartment, I reached out to his arm, stopping him from moving forward, and pleaded, "Mustafa, can we please walk back a different way than we came?" I had read that this was also a sunnah for after the Eid prayer, and telling him so, he smiled in agreement, thanked me for reminding him, and off we went in the opposite direction. Al-hamdulillah. We got home and mom was in the kitchen preparing fish and shrimp for our Eid feast. My husband headed in to the bedroom post-haste for a good, long nap. *smile* Ah, if sleep had only been so kind to me! But for some reason it continued to elude me altogether, so I occupied myself in the kitchen area where, against one wall there is a small sofa facing where mom was busy with her preparations. I sat with my laptop reading and answering mail but stood from time-to-time to let her show me how she was doing something. She enjoyed that...and even though it was in our pantomimed form of communication (since my Arabic is still pretty limited), as she finally finished her tasks, I understood it when she conveyed to me that in her heart I was like a daughter, next to her Lula. Al-hamdulillah. Al-hamdulillah that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala brought my husband and I to Egypt; Al-hamdulillah that the 19-years that she had spent taking suhoor, fasting and breaking her fast alone...were over. I can't tell you how many times over the past few days the thought of this gentle, kind and gracious woman going through so much alone for so long, just filled my heart to over-flowing, and sent tears silently streaming down my cheeks again and again. (Of course family visits from time-to-time, and calls regularly, but you know what I mean…it's not the same as having someone to share your day-to-day, life's-ups-and-downs kind of things with; having someone else to cook for or share a meal with. How many meals did she eat alone? How many nights did she sleep alone; wake up alone…that's what I mean.) Nineteen years worth…may Allah subhanaahu wa ta'ala continue to shower her with mercy and grant her the highest place in Jannah! Amin. Al-hamdulillah, after a nice seafood dinner I was able to settle down for a much needed nap. I awoke to pray Maghrib with my husband and fell immediately back into bed only to re-awaken a short time later to learn that guests had come and gone, and that my husband had offered my salaams and Eid greetings in my absence, explaining that I had been awake for two days! We rounded out the day in the sitting room with hot tea and more of the cookies that my husband's brother had sent from Cairo, and finally exhausted out of conversation, we all decided to turn in for the night. But the best surprise was yet to come! There were two things missing from my Eid celebration...hearing from my daughter Hanane (who had spent all of Ramadan in Morocco with her family), and my sister Samera back in Saudi Arabia. Then just before fajr the phone rang. I answered quickly on the second ring with a muffled, "Assalamu Alaikum." And there it was, one of the missing voices of my Eid holiday, my sister Samera, exclaiming, "Aishah! I recognized your voice! Aishah! Aishah! Eid Mubarak! I miss you so much! Aishah, how are you!" Subhan'Allah. Al-hamdulillah. Allah-Akbar! What a nice time to receive her call, too, when everyone else was asleep and it was just the two of us! And what wonderful news her call delivered! Just before I had left for Hajj back in January, Samera and Gedy and I had spent a few days in Riyadh visiting family. During our stay we spent two nights with Samera's brother, his wife and their little girl. I was collecting dua requests at the time, and Al-hamdulillah I hear from dua requestor's every-now-and-then letting me know that their dua request has been answered. This is always fantastic news, but in the case of Samera's sister-in-law, Amal, it was absolutely incredible news!! Amal's dua request was with regard to pregnancy. Not only did she wish to become pregnant, no, that wasn't enough, this new baby needed to be a boy. I promised to make the request on her behalf at Arafat, and, Al-hamdulillah I was able to keep that commitment. Wallahi, what came to my ears in Samera's phone call to me was the biggest surprise! Nine months after Hajj...dear Amal did, indeed deliver a baby boy! Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar! This was the most overwhelmingly joyful news!!! I am still dazed thinking about it even now! Samera had called from her home, so I didn't get to talk to mom or any of the other family but she promised to call back later in the evening when she would be visiting everyone. Of course, I spent the whole day in anticipation of that call, and when it came, my mother-in-law answered the phone. I could tell she was talking to Samera. When the two of them finished their little chat, I took the call in another room, and Samera immediately put mom on the phone. Subhan'Allah hearing her voice was a blessing in and of itself, and although I couldn't understand a lot of what she was saying, I figured out she was insisting I try to come for Umrah so she could see me. Next on the line came Maha. I have thought of her so often since I left Taif. She used to walk me through the house every time she bought something new to seek my approval. We would approach the new object and she would say, "Beautiful?" To which I would reply with an enthusiastic, "Masha'Allah!" or a flat-out "La, la, la, la, la!" (No, no, no, no, no!) Wallahi, if I said "No" that thing was gone the next day! So after saying Assalamu Alaikum and Eid Mubarak I said, "Maha beautiful?" And she burst into laughter. It made my heart smile to hear her laugh again! Last came my sweet daughter, Gedy (Samera and I have joint custody *lol*). *smile* Gedy learned a few phrases of English while I was with them, her favorite being, "I love you." So after exchanging salaams, I said, "I love you!" and the next thing Samera was back on the line telling me that Gedy had fled from the room in tears. I could just see those beautiful brown eyes flooding over as Samera's words registered. Samera used to jokingly say that she knew Gedy loved me more...(which, of course isn't true!), but I'd rather say that the love between the three of us is pretty special all around. And that was about the last of the cell phone time Samera could use, so we made our parting duas and ended our call. My dearest Hanane...I am still missing to hear your voice or to even see your smiley face lit up on the messenger. I just pray all is well and that you are safe and happy; Love, Mum. I pray each person reading had a blessed Eid holiday, even if it was just in getting to share a chat online, or to wear something nice; to visit the masjid for the Eid prayer and hear the echo of the takbir's, or to hug someone, share a recipe, or sit around a table filled with warm food; to take a nap, entertain a guest or two (even if only in spirit, *lol*), enjoy a cup of tea and a plate of sweets, or just hear the voice of someone special calling from afar. There are so many blessings to be found in the *little* things in life. Ma'Salaama, ~Aishah ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ya Allah, You are the embodiment of forgiveness, You love to forgive, Please disregard my shortcomings, O Forgiver, Ghafoor, the Forgiving Lord. Oh Allah, make it easy for me to do good and help me avoid the bad in all situations. Oh Allah, grant me success in all of my affairs in this life and the Next. Please increase me in knowledge and bless me with excellent teachers. Ya Allah, let me die in the highest state of Iman. Oh Allah, bless this Ummah, guide us, and unite our hearts. Ya Allah, lift my heart, relieve my burdens, and make me of those who put their full trust in You for all of their affairs. Oh Allah, please bless me with the opportunity to see many more Ramadans and Eids, and to perform much better worship of You than I have done this year and in the past. Amin. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Copyright © 2005, Aishah Schwartz Permission is granted to circulate among private individuals and groups, to post on Internet sites and to publish in full text and subject title in not-for-profit publications. Contact author for all other rights, which are reserved.