Expecting Great Things, and Doing My Part

Misty rainbow in Waialu Valley, Hawaii

Misty rainbow in Waialu Valley, Hawaii

“Holding on to the rope of the LORD, believing in the power of prayers, faith and good deeds. Expecting great things from GOD. I am ready and willing to put in the work and do my part to make it happen… faith without works equals nothing but false hope… wanting without striving and struggling is like dreaming. I gotta get busy putting in more work!”

– Hanan K Bilal

Do You See it In Yourself?

Sunlight shining through a tree

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

One of Allah’s names is Al-Wadood, The Most Loving, and this is appropriate because a Creator must have love in order to create works of beauty and power. Allah created you out of love. He created you with intent. He created you to succeed, not to fail, and He gave you all the tools that you need to thrive. Open your eyes and see what a miracle you are, what a thing of beauty, what a gift to the world. I see that in every person I know. If I met you, I’m sure I would see the miracle and beauty in you too. Do you see it in yourself?

We have Allah, and Allah is everything

Man surrounded by sun rays

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Even when we think we have nothing, we have Allah, and Allah is everything. We can be materially poor and still be wealthy beyond belief.

I’m not advocating poverty. Money has its uses. Most importantly, it can be used to help people and relieve suffering. But it is still just a tool created by men and women. An object, a thing. It can never define us, nor can it elevate us, or take us where we need to go in this life and the next.

There are things that matter more than our wallets. Allah is everything, and our relationship with Him defines us more certainly and clearly than our bank balances ever could.

If we are close to Allah, if we have a bond with Him, if we trust Him, then we have everything. We have greater security than any alarm system could provide. We have a brighter light than any chandelier. We have a clearer path than any highway. We have a truer happiness than any entertainment system, house or car could offer. We have everything.

What’s Your Legacy?

Sunset behind a tree

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

“Who are you? What makes you special? What is the legacy that you’ve built and shared with others (self, family, community and the world)? If we died today, what would our obituaries say? What have we done for GOD and GOD’s people lately? What is our mission and vision, and are we living it? If we died today, what would our obituaries say?” – Hanan K. Bilal

This is what it’s all about. I heard someone say recently that only two things can happen with the wealth you accumulate in this life: either it leaves you, or you leave it. Wealth is not a legacy. Having fun is not a legacy. Helping a company to sell useless products is not a legacy.

Making a difference in the lives of human beings, relieving the suffering of even one person, raising righteous and happy children, leaving behind knowledge that benefits people, making the world a better place, those are legacies.

I have not met the sister who is quoted at the top, but I have read some of her writings. Whenever I hear her name I think of being responsible, taking care of my family, loving my children and bringing them up right, making a difference in the community, following my dreams… that is a legacy. She has already created a vital legacy.

I have another friend whose name is Ismail. He is so humble ma-sha-Allah, and as a friend he is the most discreet and closed-mouthed person I know, by which I mean he never speaks badly about anyone else, and never reveals anyone’s secrets or violates their trust. When I think of him, I am inspired to emulate him. That is his legacy, and it’s an important and valuable one.

More than twenty years ago I knew a brother named Qawiy. His life was hard, but every time I met him he’d give me a big smile and an enthusiastic handshake. He wore a kufi and carried a folded musalla (prayer rug) on his shoulder, so he could pray whenever salat time arrived, no matter where he was. Kind of quirky, but also inspiring. All these years later, just the thought of Qawiy brings a smile to my face, and reminds me of the importance of doing salat on time. That’s a legacy! SubhanAllah.

I could name many more people who have affected me in positive and critical ways. I will always remember them, even after they are gone, Insha’Allah. They have created lasting legacies.

Of course we don’t even have to speak of the Prophets (peace be upon them), and the Messenger of Allah (sws), and the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). Their legacies shine like the moon and stars and will illuminate human history for all time.

What’s your legacy? What do people say about you, and what will they say when you’re gone?

The Sun Will Rise

African sunrise

A sunrise in Africa

“However long the night, the dawn will break.” (InshaAllah) ~ African Proverb

Ramadan Poem – In Allah’s Loving Hands

Clouds and sun rays

In Allah’s Loving Hands

May Allah swt be with you every step that you take,
May HE guide you with each decision you make,
May HE help you when life gets rough,
May HE lift you when you’ve had enough,
May HE protect you when you fall,
May HE hear you when you call,
May all your duas be accepted,
May you always be in Allah swt’s loving hands. Ramadan Mubarak x

– Anonymous Muslimah

Get Up and Do Your Thing

Africa and Europe from space

Africa and Europe from space

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Life has been challenging lately. In July I’ve faced some financial setbacks, and also some personal setbacks that have hit me hard, and drained me emotionally to the point where sometimes I just sit in my padded computer chair and don’t feel like getting up. I feel like I hardly have the energy to get up and prepare some food to eat, let alone pray, work, go to class, care for my daughter…

And yet I do get up. I go out and teach a 2.5 hour martial arts class and I do it with vigor, because my students are looking to me for guidance and inspiration. I get up and do my volunteer job at the Muslim community center. I get up and take my daughter to the lake or the masjid, and have a tea party with her, and read her the latest chapter of “Fish Face”. I laugh with her and love her with everything I’ve got, because she needs me. I don’t have time for self-pity.

I get up and do my thing, because that’s what it is to be a man (or woman), to be a father (or mother), to be a Muslim, to be a friend, to be alive! You get up and do what you have to do. You pick your foot up and take a step, then lift the other one and take another step, and before you know it you are moving ahead, and time has passed and your problems have diminished and don’t hurt quite so much, or maybe you have overcome them entirely, because you are experiencing the joy of life. Your love for Allah, and your gratitude, and your attentiveness to the beauty and blessings around you, all wash the pain away like a river.

That’s what it is to be alive. SubhanAllah.

So, to all those reading this now, I send you light and love, and I know that no matter what physical or emotional aches you are experiencing, you will rise each morning with gratitude, you will take a step and move ahead, you will love and laugh, you will push self-pity to the side and live your lives with commitment, in the short time that we all have on this beautiful ball of brown and blue.

One last note:  Eat healthy foods, drink water and – very important – get enough sleep. These are all critical to maintaining an emotional balance and moving forward in life with a positive attitude.

Advice from a Mountain

Mount Everest

Mount Everest

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

No matter how great you are, God is still above you.

There’s nothing wrong with having your head in the clouds, as long as you have roots in the earth. If you want to be beautiful and strong, be yourself. In anything, build your foundation first. Be solid, be real.

Rise above the bigotries of others. Provide refuge to the oppressed, the traveler, and the seeker. Protect the rivers, trees, and animals.

Keep your secrets. Cherish silence and solitude, but roar when you must.

Be patient: everything changes in its season, and all things come to those who persevere.

Diligence is the Mother of Good Luck

Hanalei River Valley in Kauai, Hawaii

Hanalei River Valley in Kauai, Hawaii... God created the earth and everything in it, and laid it at your feet

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.” – Arabic proverb

If you want something, work for it and do not stop. That’s how you create your own luck. Whether you were born into a rich family or a poor one, whether you are innately talented or not, whether you have charisma and charm or you are a tongue-tied nerd, it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice to be rich, talented, and charismatic, but you can succeed without them, and you’ll appreciate it all the more. All you have to do is hang on even after others have let go.

Don’t bemoan your fate. No one is born into a perfect family. Don’t complain about lack of resources. Allah created this world and everything in it, and laid it at your feet. If you’re facing the right direction, you can reach anywhere in the world if you keep on walking.

Find a Way

In 1997 I started a small web development consulting service. I really wanted to work with Muslims and help to create Islamic websites. As a small adjunct to my service, I started a Muslim matrimonial service. I thought of it as a hobby. That was the first incarnation of Zawaj.com Muslim Matrimonials. It was one of the first three such services on the internet. The problem was that I was not really a programmer (I was more of a graphic designer), and in the beginning I was hand-creating every page for every ad. The traffic climbed, until I was getting many new ads every day. It quickly became impossible.

I contacted some large web development firms to get a price quote for building a proper, automated matchmaking service. Their quotes were too high for me. I contacted some firms in India, and found one that would build the website first, and let me pay in monthly installments of $500. The bill was many thousands of dollars, and that was at a time when I could barely pay the bills. I agreed to the deal, not knowing where the money would come from. Every month I had to come up with $500 somehow. I eliminated all unnecessary expenses, I borrowed from my parents and my wife, and somehow I made it, and paid it all off.

More than ten years later, Zawaj.com is still my bread and butter.  I don’t know what I would have done without it. I feel that Allah guided me to make that choice, and I was smart enough and determined enough to seize the opportunity. For once in my life, ha ha!

Make your own luck. Make something happen. Find a way.

Diligence, diligence. Focus on your goal, work hard, don’t give up… be as persistent as the sun. Sometimes the sun is hidden behind clouds, but it’s there every day. It’s okay to have days when you’re tired, when it seems hopeless, when you wish life would give you a break, but just keep showing up every day and doing the work, and your break will come.

Whoever said that opportunity knocks once must not have been paying attention, because opportunities come along all the time. It’s just that you have to listen for them, and you must lay the groundwork so that you are ready when the knock comes.

Faith and Diligence

I’ll finish with a story from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (sws):

Narrated Khabbab bin Al-Arat:
We complained to Allah’s Apostle (of the persecution inflicted on us by the disbelievers) while he was sitting in the shade of the Ka’ba, leaning over his Burd (i.e. covering sheet). We said to him, “Would you seek help for us? Would you pray to Allah for us?” He said, “Among the nations before you a (believing) man would be put in a ditch that was dug for him, and a saw would be put over his head and he would be cut into two pieces; yet that (torture) would not make him give up his religion. His body would be combed with iron combs that would remove his flesh from the bones and nerves, yet that would not make him abandon his religion. By Allah, this religion (i.e. Islam) will prevail till a traveler from Sana (in Yemen) to Hadrarmaut will fear none but Allah, or a wolf as regards his sheep, but you (people) are hasty.”

What type of persecution was Khabbab referring to? Was it simple name calling, or Muslim businesses being boycotted? No, it was torture and murder. Bilal was laid in the desert with a huge stone on his chest. Others were place in chains, burned, stabbed by spears… all because they had adopted the religion of Allah. So it was no small thing they were complaining of. And yet all the Prophet had to say to them was that they were hasty, and that a time would come when all of Arabia would be united and safe. Someone standing beside him at the moment, looking around at the weak circumstances in which the Muslims found themselves, might have found such a statement hard to believe. But the Messenger of Allah (sws) had faith, and he had diligence, and those together can achieve anything.

Allah Prepared the Earth for Us

Yosemite Valley, California

Yosemite Valley, California

“As the pregnant mother excitedly prepares the cradle for the arrival of her new baby, Allah also prepared the earth for us before He sent Adam and Hawaa. He set all in place for us: the earth as a soft bed, the heavens as a canopy, the rain, the fruits, the stars, even companions and love. He (SWT) gave us everything we need to live and fulfill our needs. It’s truly amazing.”

– Sister Fozia

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