When you’re weary and alone, let faith carry you

Desert buttes

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

There are times when we’re alone, discouraged, and just plain weary. Times when it seems like there’s no one left who matters.

That’s when faith counts more than ever. That’s when faith is tested.

Don’t give up. Keep hope in your heart. Remember that in the darkest cave, the deepest canyon, the most barren desert, Allah is still there.

Let faith carry you at those times, and let Allah guide you, and you will come through to a better place. It’s a promise from Allah:

“And whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make for him a way out (from every difficulty). And He will provide for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Indeed Allah has sent a measure for all things.” (Quran: 65/2-3)

Walking This Path Together

Jasper National Park, Alaska

Jasper National Park, Alaska

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

I’m just a guy who has lived an unorthodox life. I have been alone and chained. I have seen frightening violence. I have also wandered the mountain trails in Central America, camped in the snows of the Sierras, and laid on my back in the Sahara, watching a meteor shower decorate the sky. I have witnessed the birth of my child, and received great gifts. I have been so blessed by Allah, so cared for, as He rescues me and heals my heart, again and again. I have been loved monumentally, and have learned to love in return.

Maybe I’ve learned a little something, and maybe I possess the talent to put it into words. Am I someone special? Yes, but so are you! Some of you amaze me. Young or old, married or single parents raising children with no help, sacrificing for your families, finding your way in the world, working, creating, struggling, studying, teaching. I have much to learn from you. I have a long ways to go in this life Insha’Allah, and many strange paths to walk, and so do you. I am happy that we are walking this path together, in this moment.

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.

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