Grateful for the Sunshine or the Rain

Wael's daughter Salma riding a camel.

Wael’s daughter Salma riding a camel.

By Wael Abdelgawad |

* Today, let us be grateful for everything good in our lives. *

Let us thank Allah for the sunshine or the rain, for there are blessings in both. People love to complain about the weather, but today let’s simply be grateful.

Let us thank Allah for our parents, our siblings, and our children – there’s my own child, above, riding a camel 🙂 Sometimes our relatives can drive us crazy – sometimes we wish we could divorce our own families – but at the of the day, they are a part of us, aren’t they?

Le’ts be grateful to Allah for food and drink, leaves and grass, birds and beauty.

Let us be grateful for our bodies, for taking deep breaths, and feeling our hearts beat in our chests. People love to complain about their bodies as well, don’t they? “Oh, my joints are killing me today… I have the worst headache… Oh, my aching back…” – but today let’s just be grateful that we are alive, with the opportunity to laugh and love for one more day.

Let us thank Allah for iman, hidayah and haq (faith, guidance and truth).

SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar.

Life is hard, but the sun still shines

Desert plant with water drops on the leaves

By Wael Abdelgawad |

How is life treating you?

People never answer this question honestly, do they? You ask them, “What’s up?” and they never say, “Oh brother, let me tell you,” and start pouring out their troubles. Because people don’t want to burden others.

But the reality is that many people are suffering in some way. They are dealing with:

  • Job stresses

  • Financial worries and debt

  • Illness, either their own or a family member’s

  • Family problems

  • Loneliness

Life can be hard sometimes. It can be lonely, frustrating, confusing and painful.

But Alhamdulillah, although life has its challenges, it’s still precious isn’t it? Every moment is a chance to get closer to Allah, to express the talents He has given us, and to feel the sunshine on our faces.

If life is hard, hang in there. Ask yourself what steps you can take to make things better. Even if they are tiny steps – so small that they seem insignificant to you – have faith, they will make a difference in time.

In the meantime, count the blessings you’ve been given. In Surat Ar-Rahman, Allah asks us over and over again, “Fa bi ayyi aalaai rabbikumaa tukathibaan.” “Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?”

Breathe deeply and feel your chest rise. Hold your head up. Bite into a grape or strawberry and taste the pure goodness of it. Step outside and feel the breeze or the sun on your face. Go the park, sit down with your back against a tree, and praise Allah. Life is hard, but it’s precious.

I’m not dismissing anyone’s problems. They are real. But don’t lose sight of the other side of the equation. When I look at my daughter, I see that Alhamdulillah she is healthy, bright, and she loves me. So how can I ever feel despair, or be ungrateful to Allah? I cannot.

We should also notice the goodness of others around us. I teach a martial arts class, and I have one student who always shows up early, sets up the mats and the fans, and brings some equipment. I’m very grateful for him. The world is full of people like that, positive people who, no matter what they’re doing in life, bring positivity.

Also, the world is full of heroism.

I just read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a woman in China who caught a falling baby. This is true, it happened in a city called Hangzhou a few days ago. The baby is a two year old girl named Zhang Fangyu, but known by the nickname Niu Niu. She was in her grandmother’s care.

Well, the grandmother went out to the store and left the girl alone in the apartment. The apartment was on the 10th floor. Apparently Niu Niu managed to get out on the balcony and climbed up the railing, then fell over. The child grabbed on to the railing out of pure instinct and held on for a moment. Well, this other woman, a 31 year old mother, was passing by and she saw what was happening. Just as she saw it, the baby let go and began to fall. The woman kicked off her high heels, ran, and held out her arms, and SubhanAllah, she caught the baby. The woman was knocked unconscious, and her arm was broken. The baby suffered some internal injury but Alhamdulillah she’s alive, and recovering.

The woman told state TV that when she saw the dangling baby, she thought of her own 7-month old son, who had recently fallen out of his high chair and cut his mouth. She said, “I thought to myself, I should stretch my arms to her. Because I am right here, I must get her. Then I made it. I caught her.”

Real life heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

If you watch the TV news, you might think that the world is nothing but crime, robbery and war. It’s important to remember that the TV news gives us a skewed perspective. Their motto is, “If it leads, it bleeds.” The truth is that while we human beings are far from perfect, there are heroes everywhere, and the world is full of compassion, and life is brimming with small joys and pleasures from day to day.

Life is hard, and the world is full of troubles, but the sun still shines, and Allah’s blessings are everywhere in our lives.

Accountable for Our Blessings

Vancouver from the air

Vancovuer, Canada from the air

I’m still in Vancouver for a martial arts seminar, and it’s so beautiful here. Mountains, rivers, trees, beaches, shining buildings, and perfect weather. When Allah has given a people so much, they will be accountable for what they did with their blessings.

Are we doing what we should with our blessings? Are we grateful? Do we share? Do we proclaim the truth? Are we fulfilling our potentials?

If not, then there is no better time to begin than right now, this moment. Choose one small way to be a better Muslim, and implement it in your life today. That’s how it starts. The road to Jannah begins with the first step.

See the Beauty Around You

Cut lemon

By Wael Abdelgawad |

We tend to think of beautiful places as being far away. We imagine exotic lands like the Caribbean islands, the Mediterranean coast, the Alps or the Himalayas, or anywhere in New Zealand, ha ha.

There is glory everywhere. Right now, in this moment, there is something beautiful within the boundaries of your vision, or very near.

From where I am sitting, through the kitchen window I can see a rose bush. The pink roses are blooming and reaching for the sky, and it’s quite lovely ma-sha-Allah. I hear birds singing outside, and through the front window I see a birds of paradise bush, with it’s angular orange flowers.

Closer at hand, on my desk is a lovely ornate metal vase from Egypt. It is covered in intricate Islamic patterns with verses of the Quran twining around the sides. There are other beautiful works of art in the house if I take the time to glance around – including a simple artwork that my daughter Salma made by sticking different kinds of leaves to a sheet of paper.

Beauty can be found in ordinary things as well. On the kitchen counter I see two lemons cut in half, and beside them a boiled egg. It reminds me of an artist’s tableau and makes me wish I were a painter. My daughter is playing on the floor with her train set, and she is the jewel of my eye, ma-sha-Allah.

One of the reasons we fall into depression is that we focus on what we don’t have, or what we have lost; and we fail to see the blessings and beauty that surround us.

Right now, look around you. Quiet your mind, and focus on beauty. Remember that life is a gift, and a miracle, and a sign.

And the grazing livestock He has created for you; in them is warmth and [numerous] benefits, and from them you eat.

And for you in them is beauty when you bring them in [for the evening], and when you send them out.

And they carry your loads to a land you could not have reached except with difficulty to yourselves. Indeed, your Lord is Kind and Merciful.

And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride, and [as] adornment. And He creates that which you do not know.

And upon Allah is the direction of the way, and among the various paths are those deviating. And if He willed, He could have guided you all.

It is He who sends down rain from the sky; from it is drink and from it is foliage in which you pasture.

He causes to grow for you thereby the crops, olives, palm trees, grapevines, and from all the fruits. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.

And He has subjected for you the night and day and the sun and moon, and the stars are subjected by His command. Indeed in that are signs for a people who reason.

And [He has subjected] whatever He multiplied for you on the earth of varying colors. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who remember.

And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat, and to extract from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, that you may seek of His bounty; and perhaps you will be grateful.

And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided, And landmarks. And by the stars they are [also] guided.

Then is He who creates like one who does not create? So will you not be reminded?

And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Quran, Surat an-Nahl (The Bee), 16:5-18

Try to count Allah’s blessings in your life

Photo of the rising moon taken from the Valley of the Moon, California

Photo of the rising moon taken from the Valley of the Moon, California

By Wael Abdelgawad for

Today, try to count Allah’s blessings in your life.

Start with your breath, your beating heart, your ability to see, smell and touch, and the ability to laugh…

Continue to your favorite foods, the roof over your head, and the people who love you…

From there move out to the blue sky, the beauty of a single tree, the sunshine on your face, and the majesty of a rising moon…

Keep counting…

Don’t forget your imaan (your faith) and your knowledge of Allah. That is the greatest blessing of Allah and the truth is that you did nothing to earn it; rather it was a gift from Allah’s infinite mercy.

Also do not forget your safety. So many people in this world live in unsafe conditions; in war, poverty, starvation, refugee camps, political imprisonment, and other forms of extreme hardship. Just to wake up in your bed in the morning and know that your life is not in immediate danger is a great blessing.

Keep counting…

Allah says:

“[…] and if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them,” (14:34).

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Pieces of a Dream