Author: RR (page 1 of 2)



A few weeks ago before we started class for the day, one of our teachers had asked us to take a few minutes and reflect back to before we came to the program- where we were, how we left, why were we coming here, leaving our families and homes behind and coming to an unfamiliar place, what was our thought process like? I rewinded back 5 months and vividly remembered the day I had packed my car up the brim, swallowed back tears, and left heavy hearted- excited, anxious, overwhelmed with gratitude, a bit afraid of the upcoming responsibility- so many thoughts running through my head. I had never left home for more than 30 days and leaving home, leaving my family, my community, all the bonds and memories that were made- I wondered if I could find the same comfort, the same feeling of family and love in a new place.

I remember the first few weeks being full of introductions and reserved conversations as a room full of strangers, who came from all across the country, slowly started to get to know one another. A few weeks passed and then a couple more. Day in and day out, we pushed through beginning nahw,  trying to squeeze as much as we could into our brains. More weeks passed with lots of late nights, tears shed on each other shoulders, studying till we were loopy, laughing until we couldn’t breathe, and we made it to Sarf. We went to sleep whispering sarf charts to ourselves, shared our sarf nightmares with each other, sarfed in the car rides, woke up sarfing some days and realized we had officially gone over the edge, stayed on campus way too late before the Sarf final, cried our way through it, and thanked Allah once we made it through.

Five in a half months later, we’re finally in Advanced Nahw and one thing that strikes me the most at this point is that I don’t know when it happened or how it happened, but at some point in this journey, the people that I am sharing this journey with became my family. I walk in now some days and I look at the sisters around me and I can’t help but wonder how such a strong bond can form in such a short amount of time. Relationships sometimes take years to develop and grow and strengthen but within such a short amount of time, my classmates and teachers became like a part of me. Their moments of happiness became mine just like their pain became my pain too. We’ve pushed each other through the lows, been cheerleaders for each other through the days where our brain just couldn’t take anymore, and celebrated the little successes, and cried together and held each others hands through the tough times.

For the past several weeks, one of my classmates had to return home and has been in and out of the hospital because of a severe illness and we could all feel a part of the pain. She was hurting and our hearts hurt for her too. (Please keep her in your duas, may Allah grant her a complete healing and elevate her through this difficulty). Some of our classmates have lost loved ones in the past months, some of them have been battling emotional battles, some have started new journeys in life and just like a family, we feel together. But why? How?

It’s the power of Allah, of His Book, of sacred knowledge. We all came here with one purpose, we came for Allah. 6 days a week, we sit together trying and struggling to get closer to His Book, trying to change ourselves, yearning for Allah’s pleasure with whatever little we are able to do and that unified goal- it connects hearts on such a deep level. It’s a transcendent type of love…a love fueled by Allah, for Allah. Looking around at the people I’m surrounded by here, I’m constantly inspired by their dedication, their sacrifices, their work ethic and character and so so grateful that Allah wrote them as part of my provision in this world.

Along with the Arabic, it’s the relationships built in this environment, founded and fueled by a common goal that really makes this experience unlike anything else. It’s the random gems, the experiences that my classmates have shared, their stories of resilience and overcoming, the wisdom shared by our teachers  that have helped me grow in ways that I could’ve never imagined before coming to the program. It’s a family away from family. And I can never thank Allah enough for each and every one of them.

Struggling with Spirituality.

Often times in life, we associate spirituality with certain milestones. “I’ll become more religious when [x,y,z] happens.” “I’ll work on my relationship with Allah when I graduate or get married or get so and so job, etc.” We start to think that somehow in some form, certain moments or events could magically perfect our relationship with Allah- quick fix and done- but in reality, there is really no magic pill, no permanent bandaid, no solution that doesn’t require consistent effort.

Coming to Bayyinah, coming to spend 9 months day in and day out spending time with the book of Allah- I was ignorant and felt as if spirituality would be the least of my worries. I was going to be learning the Qur’an after all, it was going to be the perfect solution, the magic pill to get closer to Allah but I soon realized how wrong I was. One of my biggest struggles coming here, ironically, was trying to maintain my personal relationship with Allah. And it feels so vulnerable to even admit that. To be a student of the Qur’an and to feel distant from Allah- how could that even be a thing? Why?

Slowly, I started to realize what the root cause to this dilemma was. I was getting so caught up in the routine of things that my personal time, my “me” time with Allah was gradually disappearing. Amongst the rush of waking up, getting to class, staying on top of homework and vocabulary and reading and exams, I was living in such a mechanical way, going from one thing to the next on my to do list to the point that even salah was becoming mechanical. As much time as we were spending trying to study the language of the Qur’an, I wasn’t spending nearly enough time actually reflecting and personally connecting with the Qur’an. And thus, even though we were spending 8 hours a day in class plus another couple of hours studying outside of class- I felt so distant, so painfully distant.

Over the weeks, I’ve come to realize that just being here is not enough to better my relationship with Allah. No amount of drills or homework or grammatical analysis can replace taking time to sit down with the Qur’an and think, reflect, and really try to personally connect with what Allah is telling me. No amount of “studying” could really replace the nearness to Allah that came with sujood, with just sitting and talking to Allah, with just savoring solitude and peace in those moments where it was just me and my Master. Nothing can replace that.

All of the learning and studying and memorizing helps- they are all tools but at the end of the day, the information has to result in application- and that application happens in the quiet moments. That application happens on the heart first before anything else. That application happens on the quality of my salah, the willingness of my heart to call out and speak to Allah, and on my character.  It doesn’t matter whether I am here studying the Qur’an, it doesn’t matter if someone has spend decades studying Islam, it doesn’t matter what you do or where you are in your journey- every single person has to consistently work on their heart. Every single person has to take care of their personal relationship with Allah, no matter what is going on around them.

Sometimes as we go through the motions in life, pushing ourselves to our limits, trying our best to do right by our responsibilities and commitments, we can get so caught up in them that we forget that the spiritual state of our hearts is also a responsibility. It’s also something that we have to take care of, if not one of the most important things to take care of because it keeps us going, it keeps us pushing forward. Amongst all the hustle and bustle- even 5 or 10 minutes of sitting in solitude after salah or just some time alone with the Qur’an, away from everything else, can be the perfect fuel. With some introspection- you can gradually realize what are the things that do and do not get you closer to Allah because there are some key things that are consistent across the board but there are some things can be very unique from individual to individual. Look deeply, create a list , and slowly develop consistent habits that work into your own schedule that can help you inch forward, closer and closer to Allah.

May Allah make us people that constantly remember Him no matter what is going on around us. May Allah grant life to our hearts and purify them and keep them striving for Him alone and make us people that consistently work towards cultivating our faith and make us people that He is pleased with. Ameen.

The Real Goal.

Every day at Bayyinah, between our group sessions, we break to pray Dhuhr and then resume back with the rest of the periods of the day. A few weeks ago, as we were lining up for Dhuhr prayer, taking off our shoes by the shelves, one of our Ustadhas commented on how the shoes were lined up so neatly and she said something that really struck me. She said- “Your knowledge is showing its effects on you.” It took me a second to understand what she meant but then I realized that even though it was just a neat row of shoes, on a bigger scale, it was a reflection of character, which is something our teachers had been stressing since Day 1.

We were all here to learn the book of Allah. Day in and day out, week after week, we unfold and go through another concept, another set of homeworks and quizzes and exams, another piece of the puzzle that is put in place as we strive to understand the Qur’an but at the end of the day, all of this is to make us better people, to make us more pleasing to Allah. The more we learn, the greater the responsibility becomes, and the higher the standard of character is. Our teachers often remind us how knowledge can either be a witness for us or against us and sacred knowledge isn’t just information. Rather, It’s transformation. It’s meant to better our relationship with Allah first and foremost, but also better our interactions with people, our parents, and loved ones. It’s meant to humble us and make us more compassionate, merciful, and ethical people in all aspects of life even down to the way we line up our shoes before we pray, subhanAllah.

This thought always lingers in the back on mind as we go through the program and becomes heaviest every time I go back home for break, back to my family and community. Between the span of each break, how has that knowledge improved me? With each time I return home again, am I a kinder individual? Am I more willing to help? Am I able to stay calmer when provoked? Am I am able to better manage my anger? Am I better to my parents, more willing to serve them? Is the transformation happening? The questions are endless. And there’s always more work to be done. Always.

May Allah allow knowledge to constantly transform us for the better and make us people who constantly strive to embody the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet (sws) in our attitudes, character, and interactions, Ameen.

Inspirations from a Dictionary.

This week at Bayyinah, we’ve delved into an ocean of information by learning how to use multiple Arabic dictionaries and how to access them in a quick, efficient way. Now, we don’t just have to just rely on our weekly vocabulary list- we can now search up words and do research on our own and the feeling is incredible. As the program continues and we start to open up more and more resources, I am just floored at what an endless ocean this study is and how much effort has gone behind compiling such works.

As we were going through the different dictionaries on the database, Ustadh Adam would give us a brief background of the people behind the compilation of such incredible works. The story that struck me the most was that of Edward William Lane who compiled the Arabic-English Lexicon, also known as Lane’s Lexicon. Lane’s Lexicon is an amazing resource because it not only provides definitions but examples of how certain words were used in classical Arabic, some expressions, names of Allah, and even examples from the Qur’an. It is so, so detailed and so thorough- it made me wonder what kind of dedication it must have taken to research and compile such a work. Ustadh Adam then told us a little bit about William Lane and said that when Lane was working on this dictionary, he would just lock himself in his room amongst all his resources, surrounded by many books and would never come out of his room. His dedication to this work was so much so that his servant would even slip food through the door and that’s how he would eat.

Hearing this account made me appreciate Lane’s work so much more but above that, I was really inspired by his passion and dedication- that an individual can love something and be so driven by a cause to put so much time, sweat, and effort into it is just absolutely remarkable and made me reflect on my own journey here. There are points where I can notice the exhaustion taking a toll, where the fuel seems to be running out and motivation seems to be dwindling but just hearing such stories of dedication and effort fills the tank a little bit more each time. I have to remember why I’m here. I have to retrace my steps. Anyone on the journey towards a goal at some point will have to refuel, recheck intentions, reset themselves- what am I working towards? Why am I doing what I am doing? Why did I start this endeavor to begin with?

If I really am passionate about the book of Allah, if I really believe in the power of the Qur’an to transform lives, if I really believe that this Book is the solution to my problems and for all of humanity, then I have to pour my heart and soul and energy and effort to this cause, just like Lane did in his Lexicon when he really, truly believed in what he was doing. May Allah make us people of work ethic, or dedication, and resilience and allow us to pour our heart and energy for His sake to serve Him and above all, accept our efforts and allow them to grow beyond expectations. Ameen.



For the past few weeks, we have started to do I’raab- grammatical analysis of verses from the Qur’an where Ustadh Adam would pick a passage from the Qur’an, highlight words or fragments and we would have to recognize the role that they played and break the ayaat down based on everything that we had learned so far. When we starting doing these exercises, it would take Ustadh some time to pick out what to highlight because we were barely starting to piece things together so in the span of a page of the Qur’an, there would be a handful of highlighted words. Just the other day, though, we were doing another practice set before our exam and I looked up at the screen and almost the whole page was highlighted in yellow and I was just stunned. It was like slowly starting to see some of the fruits of your efforts before your eyes and the feeling was incredible.

The journey here has not been totally smooth sailing. There are some weeks that were smooth, everything seemed to click and make sense but there have also been others week where it seems as if no matter how I tried, there were still slip ups here and there. There have been a lot of tears, a lot of nights before the exam where I wonder if I am even cut for this, moments of doubt, moments of disappointment at my own self but looking up at the screen full of so much yellow, there was a feeling of happiness and gratitude that filled me. I may still struggle and fall short many times and make mistakes but from Day 1 to now, step by step, I am progressing more than I have ever progressed in my entire life before this program, Alhamdulillah. Slowly, Allah is opening more and more of His Book for me. Slowly but surely, my mushaf is becoming more familiar, more recognizable and just that is worth every tear, every moment of exhaustion, and every second of effort. Because if there’s one thing that worth struggling a lifetime for- it’s this Book. It’s the Qur’an. It’s our Master’s words that are the key to our success in this world and our ultimate success in the Next.

May Allah keep us students of His Book as long as we are alive and help us unlock its treasures and raise us on the Day of Judgment as the People of the Qur’an, Ameen.

Practicing Patience.

Patience is a very strange thing. I realized that for most of my life, I never truly understood the definition of patience. For so long, patience was simply waiting in line, waiting to get picked up, controlling road rage- basically patience with others, but as I grow older, patience has become a different challenge and has taken different shapes and forms. Patience has become holding back, its become a battle of cluttered thoughts, it’s become an exercise in tawakkul, and it is an everyday struggle, more often with the self, rather than others. It no longer remains a theoretical concept but in reality, has become something that practically requires a redirection towards Allah, a conscious redirection of thoughts and a physical redirection of the limbs to submission in sujood. And this is not always easy.

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A Single Step.

One of my favorite parts of being at Bayyinah is a small 5 minute chunk of our day where we learn various Arabic expressions that are very short yet so eloquent and deep. In years past, students had to memorize almost 300+ expressions but this year, Alhamdulillah the list is much shorter. One of my favorite expressions that we’ve covered so far was on Day 2 and it’s still one that I reflect on from time to time. The expression is:

الفُ ميلٍ تبدأ بِخَطوةٍ

A thousand miles begins with a single step. 

Often times in the course of our life, we make plans, we set goals, we dream big, and rightfully so. But the destination, the goal, and the dream seem so distant and difficult…like a thousand miles away and the fear of failure intimidates us, it cripples us. As much as we want to attain it, thinking of the long tiring road ahead leaves us overwhelmed, unproductive, and still at stuck in the same position. But you have to start somewhere. You have to take the first step. And little by little, step by step, du’a by du’a, the daunting task, the long road starts to seem tangible, starts to seem even enjoyable. Its often the first step that’s the hardest because it’s surrounded by fear, insecurity, baggage, and doubt. Once you overcome that, the steps that follow become more familiar and more comfortable.

This can apply to almost every aspect of our life- education, career, relationships, personal development and even in our faith. In our journey to God, we often carry heavy baggage whether that’s in the form of our sins, our own doubts, our past, our fears and our pain and we let those things weigh us down. We feel like we’re too far, too bad, too messed up with too much baggage to start over, to become better. In our minds, the road to becoming closer to God seems to be “a thousand miles”, our perception of what it means to be a “good Muslim” seems to be such a far stretch but we just have to take the first step and Allah (swt) says: “Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.” [Hadith Qudsi]

We just have to take the first step. Instead of looking at the thousand miles ahead, instead of being overwhelmed and crippled, even with faith we have let go and start step by step. What can I do better today? What can I take away that is pulling me away from Allah? What can I do to get closer to Allah? And slowly but surely, when we start sincerely turning back to Allah, when we put in that effort, when we turn back through istighfar and tawbah, through salah and du’a, Allah will not let those efforts go to waste and He guides the hearts that are sincerely seeking Him. It all starts with a single step.

Allah Provides.

In Surah Baqarah, Allah (swt) says at the end of Ayah 3: وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

In a basic translation, we learn that Allah is teaching us that the muttaqeen, the people that have taqwa, have God-consciousness are those that spend out of what they have been given. But if you look a little deeper, the verb that describes the act of spending is actually at the very end, when normally it should be in the beginning and Allah providing is mentioned first, it’s emphasized first. This is abnormal sentence structure, but what exactly is the significance?

Allah (swt) is teaching us that the people of taqwa don’t just spend but they realize that everything comes from Allah; that what they are giving comes from Allah. There may be an individual that doesn’t want to give zakah or is very, very attached to their wealth or perhaps may be boasting about how much they give but this ayah is a reminder. Before Allah mentions us giving, He reminds us that He is the one that provides us with whatever we have, and from that, they spend. Even what you give, even that portion of zakah or sadaqa etc- it was never ours to begin with. It is all from Allah.

The Steel Door.

Before I left my home town to start the Dream Program, I visited one of our community’s scholars to seek his advice before beginning this journey of seeking knowledge, of seeking to study the language of Allah’s Book. His advice was very interesting; he told me to remember three things, three pieces of advice:

1. Purify your intentions. Always, always remember that you are going for Allah, that’s it.

2. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give up.

3. And remember that Shaitan is at the steel door.

I looked very puzzled when he said this last point of advice but he paused and then continued to explain. He said that the beginning of the journey to study Arabic is like trying to get in a house that has a steel door at the front but the rest of the house is made up of twigs. The beginning is the most difficult part of studying the language and at that steel door is where shaitan is sitting. You have to push past, you have to struggle through that door, and you have to never give up. Once you get through that steel door, once you get through the initial hurdle, and keep going, everything will start to click and make sense. The beginning is the most difficult part. But once you get past that hurdle, its just like the rest of the structure which is made of twigs. It’s just come together smoothly. At which point this happens, depends from individual to individual. That overcoming of the hurdle could come a month in, it could come six months in, or perhaps even at the end, eight or nine months in. But remember Shaitan is at that door trying his best to prevent you from getting through. You have to keep going, you have to keep pushing and working and never, ever, ever give up.

It will all slowly start to make sense, piece by piece, twig by twig. You just have to get through the steel door.

Puzzle Pieces.

In Surah Taha, we learn extensively about Prophet Musa (as), how Allah spoke to him directly, how Musa (as) was given the mission to go back to the place that he ran away from, and the powerful du’a that he makes for Allah to facilitate this task, and this responsibility that has been given to him. What really captures me in Surah Taha is after these set of ayaat, in Ayahs 37-41, Allah reminds Musa (as) of all the different blessings that were conferred to him, teaching him that He has been there all along from the beginning.

Allah tells Musa (as) about his past, about how the soldiers were about to kill him, how Allah inspired Musa (as)’s mother to throw him in the river, how his sister ran after to watch him, how he ended in the Pharoh’s house but Allah returned and reunited him with his mother so her heart wouldn’t grieve and then he was tested in many ways, tested immensely from having to run away from his land, being homeless, without anything and then Allah says after mentioning all these things, Allah says: “…Then you came [here] at the decreed time, O Moses.”  [20:40]

Allah tells Musa (as) that you came here right on time. Everything was part of the plan. Allah was there all along, at every step, at every moment, Watching, Hearing, Present. All the puzzle pieces were slowly being put together and at that valley, where Allah is speaking to Musa (as), He reminds Musa (as), that you have came right on time. You are right where you are supposed to be. 

This ayah made me reflect- Over the years, as I’ve grown, I’ve realized that growing up isn’t as smooth sailing, isn’t as glamorous as my 8 year old self used to think. It’s tough, it’s responsibility, it’s a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty, and difficult decisions and there are moments of just utter confusion and moments where you just feel like there is no way out, where the pieces just don’t seem to be fitting. But there is so much comfort in reflecting on these ayahs because after all the difficulties and struggles that Musa (as) has gone through, Allah reminds him that it was all part of the plan, it was all to mold him, for Him.

And just like that, we go through moments of extreme difficulty, of extreme uncertainty, of closed door after closed door but they are all part of the process. Your experiences, your struggles, your moments of happiness, your smiles and your tears are all unique- they are all part of the Plan and slowly but surely, the puzzles pieces start to connect and come together. And there is a beautiful tranquility and peace that lies in knowing that, when you live for Allah alone, He takes care of you in the best of ways, connects the puzzle pieces in the most beautiful of ways. And in every moment, He is there, forever Present, closer to us than our jugular vein. الحمد لله

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