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SHAWWAL 1433

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER | 2012

THE GLOBAL MAGAZINE FOR MUSLIM WOMEN WHO DEFINE THEMSELVES THROUGH THE CREATOR

ISSUE #36

Gratitude 4 6

A PIECE OF JANNAH IN OUR HANDS

BIDDING FAREWELL TO RAMADAN

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5 BENEFITS OF RELAXATION

BOOST YOUR IMAN AFTER RAMADAN

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FROM THULUMAT (DARKNESSES) TO NOUR (LIGHT)

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5 WAYS TO SHOW GRATITUDE

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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER | 2012

SHAWWAL 1433

THE GLOBAL MAGAZINE FOR MUSLIM WOMEN WHO DEFINE THEMSELVES THROUGH THE CREATOR

ISSUE #36 The global contemporary magazine for Muslim women (and men too) who choose to define themselves through the Creator, not the creation Working to keep the guidelines of Islam embedded in every single page, between every single letter, inshaAllah

FOUNDER Sister Yasmin Essa

MARRIAGE SPECIALIST Sister Fatima A. Khan

ASSISTANT EDITOR Sister Nur Soliman

BROTHER’S COLUMNIST Brother Kyle Smith

LAYOUT & DESIGN INTERN Sister Nasim Ali

PARENTING COLUMNIST Sister Ameera Rahim

COVER IMAGE Islamic Korner

CONVERT COLUMNIST Brother Kyle Smith

VISUAL ARTS INTERN Bint Muhammad

MENTAL HEALTH COLUMNIST Sister Saba Malik

PUBLISHING INTERN Sister Aisha B. Ali

SPIRTUALITY COLUMNIST Sister Reham Ibrahim

EDITING INTERN Sister Sarah Mostafa

QC EDITOR Sister Safa Kariti

RELATIONSHIP SPECIALIST Sister Tayyaba Syed

2012 EDITORIAL CALENDAR January: I Love Islam February: 40 Under 40 March: Salah/Prayer April: Jihad May: Happiness June: Marriage & Love July: The Gems of Ramadan August: Eid/Gratitude September: Time Management October: Love of The Prophet (SAW) November: Family December: Faith, Skepticism & Rejuvenation

SUBSCRIBE TO MBMUSLIMA www.mbmuslima.com LETTERS TO THE EDITOR admin@mbmuslima.com WRITE FOR MBMUSLIMA admin@mbmuslima.com ADVERTISING advertising@mbmuslima.com

Copyright Modest Beautiful Muslima© Magazine 2009-2012 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce or redistribute anything unless otherwise agreement with MBMuslima exists MBMuslima Magazine


CONTENTS AUGUST/SEPTEMBER | 2012

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FOUNDER’S LETTER The Qur’an: A Piece of Jannah in Our Hands

ASSISTANT EDITOR’S LETTER Bidding Farewell to Ramadan, Ushering in the Eid and the Dawn of the New Month

QUR’AN CONNECTION Ayahs on Gratitude

IMAN (FAITH) + GRATITUDE

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HOW TO BOOST YOUR IMAN AFTER RAMADAN CONVERT CORNER: FROM THULUMAT (DARKNESSES) TO NOUR (LIGHT)

MIND + BODY + SOUL WELLNESS 5 BENEFITS OF RELAXATION

3 PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF PRAYER

LIFE + GRATITUDE

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THE ULTIMATE EID

5 WAYS TO SHOW GRATITUDE 3


FROM THE FOUNDER

d Bismillah Al Rahman Al Raheem In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful. Assalamu alaykum wa RahmatUllahi wa Barkatu, May the peace and blessings of Allah SWT be unto you, Welcome to the Gratitude Issue of MBMuslima! We are so glad you found us. We pray that you leave this issue feeling appreciative, refreshed, inspired, creative, and faithful.

A Piece of Jannah in Our Hands

Dearest Readers, The Qur’an: A Piece of Jannah in Our Hands At a lecture almost three ago, one of my favorite scholars said “The Qur’an is a piece of paradise in our hands”. His statement meant enough for me to write it down in my notes, but I did not initially internalize the deep meaning held in that gem of knowledge. The Qur’an is a piece of Jannah (Paradise), yet we ignore it all the time. We forget it. Then Ramadan comes and reminds us of its beauty. The beautiful thing about Ramadan is that it comes in like an incredibly kind stranger and leaves like an incredibly kind best friend. During the first few days, we become accustomed to fasting, taraweeh, etc. Even if we have been fasting extra days throughout the rest of the year, there is still something incredibly unique and special about the fasts of Ramadan. When it the months come to an end, we become sad. This stranger from just a few weeks ago has now become extremely dear to our hearts. Today after Taraweeh, the Imam said something beautiful. He said as we approach the last few days of Ramadan, remember that Ramadan leaves, but Ibadah (worship) does not. It’s here to stay.

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Don’t be sad that Ramadan is over. Be glad this beautiful guest came to visit us. Pray that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala blesses us with another Ramadan. Start preparing for next Ramadan, just like the Sahaba (companions) used to do. Continue to pray long prayers, and frequent the Qur’an more often than idle activities. Realize that the job of Ramadan is to remind us of the piece of Jannah in our hands. This is the month when our purpose becomes crystal clear. Crystal clear purpose is what every human soul yearns for. Often times, even as believers, we may intermittently forget our purpose. Alhamdulilah for the blessings and reminders that Ramadan brings. Jazakum Allahu khairan. Sister Yasmin Essa, Founder, MBMuslima Magazine P.S. As always, your comments, criticism, and suggestions as an MBM reader are highly appreciated, encouraged, and valued. By the will of Allah SWT, let us all engage in a deep, collective search for truth, guided by the primary sources of Islam: the Qur’an and Sunnah. As always, JazakAllah khair for being an MBM reader—the magazine would be nothing without you. Enjoy this issue!

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FROM THE ASSISTANT EDITOR

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Bidding Farewell to Ra madan, Ushering in the Eid and the Dawn of the New Month By Sister Nur Soliman, Assistant Editor

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FROM THE ASSISTANT EDITOR

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As I am writing, we have just completed our first day of Ramadan. After preparing the dates and milk, heating the soup, and setting the table, we ate while the sky darkened to a luminous, deep blue, and to the sound of the athaan (call to prayer). The palm trees became olive-green after the heat of the sun, and we turned on the lights in our living room. Just like that, things turned and it was Ramadan. The day before I was at work and it was a blur of meetings, emails typed by the minute, and phone calls. I needed a second cup of tea to keep myself up. Later, I had been out with friends— a day like any other, but that night was like no other. It was going to be Ramadan the next day, and even as I prayed the sunna of the evening, I was excited. Even though I couldn’t see the moon, I could see that pale crescent in my heart; Ramadan was here. “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs for guidance and clearance. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (Quran 2:185). Every Ramadan, we get this little glow of excitement, this new chance to ‘get it right’ despite our past moments of vulnerability and weakness, our phases of forgetfulness and ghafla (heedlessness), our difficulties, trials, tribulations, and moments that tried our patience and our steadfastness. We try, we managed to get those sunna prayers done every day, we read our Qur’an regularly, we keep good company, we fast and give alms, and we work hard on our character. But month in and month out, we slip, and when Ramadan comes, we grab onto it with both hands. The month of shining lights, comes as regularly as it always does, and never more than that time do we eagerly seek out the hilal, or the new moon. It’s our new chance to turn inward and look ever closer inside our souls, our hearts, and deeper into our iman by examining our faith and conviction with scrutiny, by turning our attention to our strengths, our weaknesses, our character, and using these 29 or 30 days to make good decisions, to improve and revive the virtues, and renew our spirits.

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Abu Huraira narrates that our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Sahih Bukhari V.3 B.32 # 227) Eid is one of the most joyful, exuberant holidays of the year as we congratulate one another on completing yet another Ramadan. However, we must not let our former weaknesses simply return with the end of the month and the coming of the new moon. Perhaps, Eid should also be a welcoming party for the next twelve months. We may promise ourselves not to forget or let go as much, to ‘keep up the good work,’ and, perhaps, to be determined not to let go of all of the wonderful things we have done and become.

Eid should also be a welcoming party for the next [ 12 ] months.

My favorite poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, writes of those who fast Lent before Easter, and says that “pure fasted faces draw unto this feast / God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.” How beautiful then, to keep our pure, fasted faces, and to harness the light that Ramadan dispelled the darkness with? To keep that light as much as we can until the next year? To cultivate and care for our iman until it is strong, and shines out from our newly polished, purified hearts? I sincerely wish that you have all had the best Ramadan you can remember, and that you have accomplished all that you sought to accomplish. I pray that your hearts are fed with those long nights of tarawi and quiet qiyaam, that your faces are pure and fasted, and that your spirits are well-contented, happy, and ready for a new year. Praises are all to Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (Exalted is He), who granted us this new Ramadan, and may He grant His mercy to those could not be with us. May Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (Exalted is He), aid us in all our fasting and our worship, and give us strength in our faith. May He reward us and grant us but a share of His mercy, forgiveness, and freedom from the fire, Ameen.

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IMAN (FAITH) + GRATITUDE

How to Keep your Iman (Faith) Boosted After Ramadan By Aisha Ali, MBMuslima Columnist

1. Visit your local masjid regularly. Praying together with other Muslims is a great Iman (faith) booster, giving you a sense of unity in the ummah. 2. Fasting is a great way to strengthen Iman.Try to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) by fasting Mondays, Thursdays, and on the day of ‘Arafa, as this is what the Prophet (SAW) used to do. ‘A’isha said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to take care to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.” [at-Tirmidhi]. ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There is no day when God sets free more servants from Hell than the Day of ‘Arafa. He draws near, then praises them to the angels, saying: What do these want?” (Sahih Muslim) 3. One of the best ways to increase your Iman is to gain knowledge. Many communities offer classes at local masajid, at Islamic Centers, online, and through the publishing of various books. As Muslims “The quest for knowledge is a compulsion on every Muslim. (Hadith Hassan)”. We have an obligation to learn more about the Deen, and one of the best benefits of this, is increasing your Iman.

Image Credits: Flickr Dylan Payne

4. Get involved. Volunteer at shelters, food banks, and any other charitable organization in your area. As Muslims, we also have an obligation to our community and to those less fortunate. By helping others, we acquire good deeds, feel a sense of accomplishment, and become closer to Allah (SWT). Volunteering and donating is a great way to increase Iman as it helps us realize all that Allah (SWT) has blessed us with.

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5. Read Qur’an and perform other acts of dhikr. Many of us spend the month of Ramadan reading Qur’an, but as the month ends we lose momentum. Set practical goals for yourself each day or week and do your best to meet these goals. Also remember that free time is the best time to make acts of dhikr (i.e. while waiting for a bus or train, in spare time before school or work, etc.).


MIND+BODY+SOUL WELLNESS

5 Benefits of Relaxation By Sister Aisha Ali, MBMuslima Columnist

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Slows heart rate. Relaxation is a good way to reduce your heart rate, thereby reducing blood pressure. It is often recommended by doctors as a way to relieve stress and decrease blood pressure. Boosts memory. Studies have shown that under great duress the human brain is not likely to be in its best mental state. Relaxing, however, has been shown to boost memory. Other studies have shown that when under stress the brain releases proteins often linked to Alzheimer’s, which can increase the likelihood of early onset.

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Decreases chances of mental instabilities. Stress and pressure can trigger mental instabilities in patients with a history of mental health issues. Relaxation can relieve patients of these pressures, giving them less of a chance of relapsing.

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Decreases chances of overeating and weight gain. Stress induced hormones often increase appetite, which can aid in overeating and cravings. By decreasing the presence of such hormones through relaxation, one is less likely to gain stress-related weight.

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Clearer skin. Stress triggers the skins oil production that can clog pores and cause acne. By relaxing and decreasing stress, oil produced decreases, thereby decreasing the number of clogged pores and related acne breakouts.

Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/stress-awareness-dayrelaxation-benefits_n_1424820 html#s869779&title=Relaxing_Eases_Acne

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MIND+BODY+SOUL WELLNESS

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Physical Benefits of Prayer

By Sister Aisha Ali, MBMuslima Columnist

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Increase in blood flow Certain positions during salat are helpful in increasing blood flow to various organs and body parts. For example, sajdah, the part of the prayer when we touch our foreheads to the floor, increases blood supply to the brain. Other movements including the arms and shoulders increase blood flow to parts of the body such as the torso.

Flexibility Ruku, or bowing down, is another great way to stretch your body. Such positions allow the spine to become supple, thereby alleviating back pains and aches.

Regular exercise Studies have found that performing Salah five times daily is similar to walking or jogging at about 3 miles per hour. Though this is not nearly enough exercise one should receive, it is a great start to improving our bodily health. Sources: http://www.alislam.org/library/articles/salat.htm http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=2011031896131

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IMAN (FAITH) + GRATITUDE

CONVERT CORNER

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FROM THULUMAT (DARKNESSES) TO NOUR (LIGHT)

By Brother Kyle Smith, MBMuslima Columnist

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very single Muslim should have gratitude. As I have stated in a previous tip, whether we are born Muslim or not, it is a huge blessing that we have Islam. With that being said, one could argue that converts should have a greater sense of gratitude.

I say that because converts were once wandering in ‘darknesses’, a translation of the Arabic word thulumat. Similarly, the Quran often uses the word nour, translated as light, to describe someone who has guidance, and is on the straight path. I recently spoke at a Muslim revert event where three other brothers and I shared our journeys to Islam. I was really touched upon hearing the story of our brother Isa Kundra. Isa was born into a family of Hindu parents. From a young age, he was taught to hate Islam, and to worship idols. Isa, however, only listened to part of what his parents were teaching him, as he hated idol worship, and became an atheist. He said that he took pride in debating with Muslims, and arguing that there was no God. He also said that although he got this false sense of pleasure through arguing with others, he felt really empty inside. Isa used to get really tense and he worried about things all the time. He regularly saw a doctor in order to get pills to help ease this tension/uneasy feeling. On one of these visits, the doctor (a Muslim man) said to him, “why are you worrying when He’s always there?” That statement really hit Isa. After leaving the doctor’s office, he called one of his friends from school and said, “I think I just started believing in God.” His friend was shocked to hear this; being that Isa was the biggest challenger to the idea of God in the school. Isa and his friend agreed that there is only one God, and with that, Isa became a Muslim.

“I THINK I JUST STARTED BELIEVING IN GOD.”

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The story is really simple. I have heard many revert stories in my life, and many times they are more complex than that of Isa’s. Often times, reverts take years of studying and contemplating before coming to Islam. Isa, on the other hand, hated religion and God, yet it only took one statement to make him decide to become a Muslim. Isa stated that people often ask him why he became a Muslim. “When people ask me that question,” he said, “the only answer that I can give them is that when Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), decides to take someone out of the thulumat (darknesses), and into nour (light), it is a mercy from Him and He does what He wills.” Isa was referring to the great ayah from Surah Ibrahim where Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), says, “Alif, Lam, Ra. [This is] a Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that you might bring mankind out of darknesses into the light by permission of their Lord - to the path of the Exalted in Might, the Praiseworthy” (Quran 14:1) This story really moved me, as it was so simple. We learn from the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wasalam (peace be upon him), that only Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), can guide someone. So, it’s clear that Isa was a person who was once wandering around in thulumat (darknesses), and out of His tremendous mercy, Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), chose to guide him.

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There are many Muslims who, at one point in their life, may have been wandering around in darknesses; they made an effort to strive for Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), and He guided them. However, this is not the case with all Muslims. Some come from great families; they have always loved Islam from a very young age, they grew up worshipping Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), and being a good person, etc. It’s clear that such a person was never in the thulumat (darknesses). Conversely, in the case of a convert/revert, it’s always true that, at one point, they were in the thulumat (darknesses). Combining the fact that all converts were once in the thulumat, with the fact that no one can guide someone other than Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), this guidance is a huge mercy that we should show tremendous gratitude for. We have to ask ourselves the question, why me? Why did Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), choose to guide me while I was wandering in the darknesses? We have to be humble and realize that only Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), knows, and He does what He wills. We just have to show gratitude to Him for that tremendous mercy.

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LIFE + GRATITUDE

The Ultimate Eid By Sister Reham Ibrahim, Spirituality Columnist

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It’s time to celebrate our hard work. In the month of Ramadan, we have dedicated our fasting to our Creator, and we can now commemorate a month well spent worshipping Allah the way that pleases Him; giving up our desires, even those that are halal (permissible/lawful), solely for the sake of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He).

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Ramadan is boot camp for the soul. It’s the perfect example of “Taqwa”(consciousness of Allah). During this month, even while knowing that no one sees us, we choose not to break our fast. These are the moments in which our iman (faith) is higher than usual because we are fully aware that Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) is watching us. It just goes to show, that we do have the ability to control our desires. If only we treated each month of the year like Ramadan, our souls would be purified. It was a great cleansing session that was needed for our hearts. It’s the one break that we have per year to reflect and concentrate on our akhira (hereafter) more than our dunya (worldly life). We purify our souls, and a pure soul is anxious to go back to the Creator. May Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He), make our souls and hearts pure. In Ramadan we concentrate on gaining the most rewards we can during the annual ajr (reward for good deeds) sale! This is a mercy from Allah, because we are all Jannah focused during this time. When Ramadan ends and Eid comes to congratulate people on a productive month, it’s at that moment that we can’t back away from thinking of Jannah. We tend to carry on with life, forgetting that we just spent a whole month striving for the akhira. Ramadan makes us gain some self-purification, and helps us to stop our bad habits. It actually takes 30 days to develop a habit, and if we’ve built one of striving to eliminate some of our sins for the whole month, then we are among the people that succeeded. This month is a gift from Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He). He is letting us know that we have the power to obtain Taqwa and be better Muslims, which is something we tend to forget. Eid is a tiny sample of Jannah if you think of the bigger picture. If we considered the month of Ramadan the span of our lives, Eid would be Jannah. We are gathered with our loved ones, we get new clothes and gifts, joy and celebrations are everywhere, and we are able to fulfill our halal desires without any limitations! We must remember that the beautiful and perfect life is in the Hereafter, and whenever we see anything beautiful, or feel overjoyed with something we’ve gained, we need to keep Jannah in our minds, and avoid being intrigued with dunya’s temporary ‘magic’. Anas may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet peace be upon him said: “O Allah, There is no better living like the living of the Hereafter” (Sahih Bukhari V.8 B.76 #422) Remembering this hadith will allow you to be content with everything you have in dunya because the things of this life are limited. In Jannah, there is no limit to beauty, contentment, or happiness, and we shouldn’t attach ourselves with dunya or materialism. Ramadan helps us fight our desires for material things. So, let’s make the celebration of Eid a reminder of the promise of the Jannah that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) has waiting for us. I ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) to allow us to celebrate our hard work in dunya and in the Hereafter. May He accept our worship in Ramadan and grant us the highest level of Jannah, insha’Allah.

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QURAN CONNECTION

Ayahs on Gratitude

(3:145) Credit: quran.com/3

And it is not [possible] for one to die except by permission of Allah at a decree determined. And whoever desires the reward of this world - We will give him thereof; and whoever desires the reward of the Hereafter - We will give him thereof. And we will reward the grateful.

(14:5) Credit: quran.com/14

And We certainly sent Moses with Our signs, [saying], “Bring out your people from darknesses into the light and remind them of the days of Allah.” Indeed in that are signs for everyone patient and grateful.

(14:7) Credit: quran.com/14

And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’

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LIFE + GRATITUDE

5 Ways to Show Gratitude

By Sister Aisha Ali, MBMuslima Columnist

3. Give back 1. Give a gift Whether it is a heartfelt card, a homemade creation, or a store-bought item, gifts are a great way to show someone how much you appreciate them; the only downside being that these can get very expensive very fast.

2. Give them a hug As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words, and sometimes a warm embrace can make all the difference in the world, to show someone you care.

Though this seems a bit obvious, it really is a great way to show gratitude. When a friend listens to your problems or does something particularly special for you, one of the best ways to show your gratitude is to do something caring to them in return. It’ll show that you truly care about them and that you are grateful for their presence in your life.

4. Manners matter Another great way to show your appreciation is to be polite. We often go through the daily motions of life, forgetting that sometimes a positive demeanor or a simple smile can really brighten one’s day.

5. Say Thank You

Image Credits: Flickr Kim Love

A simple genuine thank-you goes a long way. Though it is the most common form of gratitude, it is often abused today. Thank-you’s are issued nonchalantly, as if it holds no significance, but a sincere thank-you can really make a difference.

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ISLAMIC TERMS EXPLAINED INSHAALLAH | Simply translated from Arabic to English, InshaAllah means ‘God willing’. This is a very commonly used phrase, as Muslims believe God has power over everything. MASHAALLAH | Simply translated from Arabic to English , MashaAllah means ‘Whatever Allah (God) wills’. Often, it is used as an expression of delight or achievement. JAZAKALLAH KHAIRAN | Simply translated from Arabic to English, jazakAllah khairun means ‘May Allah reward you for the good”. This is commonly used to thank someone or to acknowledge someone’s effort. SUBHANALLAH | In Arabic, SubhanAllah means ‘Glorious is Allah”. This is used when praising God. It is also commonly used as a exclamation like “Wow!”. MASJID | The Masjid is simply the Arabic word for Mosque. Many Muslims refer to the Mosque as a Masjid. Masjids are primarily used for Salah (Prayer) SUBHANA WA TA’ALA | Arabic Praise used after the name of Allah meaning ‘glorious and exalted is He” HIJAB | Headscarf prescribed to Muslim women for modesty purposes SHAHADAH | Declaration of Islamic faith. ASSALAMU ALAYKUM | May peace be unto you.


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