Bismillah,
It's been a very long time since I updated this blog!!! My sincere apologies to those who enjoy reading it. My only excuse is that I've been super duper busy and I barely get much time to myself online. So, I guess the first thing to do is give everyone a lil update:
1) I switched jobs and now am teaching in King Saud Uni. I really enjoy what I'm doing and I'm really happy at my new place of work, Alhamdulillah!

2) I went for Hajj this year.

3) I've been working hard to re-decorate our apartment and now I've gotten to a point where I'm really happy with the final outcome.

4) I can say that I'm finally settled and happy in Riyadh, and almost 100% adjusted to life in this dusty city.
So, now that everything's caught up with, I'm gonna go n fix up some dinner. Inshallah I'll post again soon with Hajj lessons, pics and perhaps some pics of our fully furnished apartment.
Till I post again...
Peace!

Bismillah,

Ramadan Kareem!

I'm back from my hectic and fun-filled summer vacation. It included a short stay with my parents in Oman, a week in Vancouver, a weekend in Ottawa, and 3 weeks in Toronto.
Highlights of my trip included: going to Canada's Wonderland, taking an Al-Maghrib class (tafseer Juz tabarak), meeting all my old friends, visiting Victoria, Whistler and Vancouver city. I do have lots of entertaining pictures from our escapades, and will be posting them up shortly.
In the meantime, I just wanted to fill you in on what I've been doing since I returned to Riyadh. Ramadan was in full swing on the day I landed (2nd day of Ramadan) so I ignored my jet-lag and got right into it. Cleaning up our place after a month and half of no activity was a serious chore. Without getting into too many details, I guess it's sufficient to say that it resembled a mass grave of 200 large, suicidal cockroaches...... Again, I'm not going to elaborate on that! After all that was sorted out, we decided that we'd have a lil iftar dinner thingie, which also went quite well, apart from a slight issue towards the end of the night, which resulted in me cleaning one of our couches. *sigh*
After we sorted that out, we decided to make the most of this month and we planned a road trip to Makkah and Madinah. We drove from Riyadh to Madinah in about 6 hours, and found a really nice hotel right across from the Masjid un-Nabawi. After spending 2 days there, we decided to head off to Makkah, where we spent 3 days. We managed to arrive in Makkah in time for Isha prayers, found a good hotel, and headed down the hill towards the Masjid-ul-Haram among a sea of worshippers, all of whom were headed in the same direction as us. It is at this time, whilst you are reciting the Talbiyah, that you feel a sense of peace and tranquility, a sense of excitement and awe, and a feeling of remorse that you might never return after this Umrah, this might be your last. After entering the gate of the Haram, you follow the path down the stairs until you catch your first sight of the Ka'aba. Subhanallah, that is a moment never to be forgotten… paralyzed in your footsteps and completely awe-struck with the sight of the most Majestic House, it is in that moment that you realise that THIS is what you've been waiting for.
It was after Isha that we began our Umrah, which we completed in 2 parts: we completed our Tawaaf during the first 10 rakaats of Taraweeh. Whilst many worshippers were praying the Taraweeh behind Shaykh Sudais, we had the opportunity to make our Tawaaf whilst listening to his beautiful and heart-rending recitation of the Quran. I felt at once how mankind is truly insignificant, an atom in a large sea of them, only differing by their beliefs and in their deeds. Each human is that one atom that comes and passes away, and very soon we will all be alone before Him, the One who gave us life and we will receive judgment and recompense for all that we have done. There we were, encircling the House of Allah, asking for His forgiveness, His mercy, and His blessings...
We then joined the last 10 rakaats of Taraweeh, and during the Witr we all heard and felt the tears of Shaykh Sudais as he raised his hands up to the sky and begged Allah for the forgiveness of His Ummah, quietly weeping and beseeching Allah- a witr I will never forget. Thousands of people standing behind him also had their hands outstretched and the sounds of sobbing and weeping rang out through the entire Haram.
After the Taraweeh ended, we completed our Sai.
We spent 2 more days in Makkah during which time I experienced breaking my fast at the Ka'aba. There are many blessings in the food of Makkah. The Prophet Ibrahim (as) made a dua for this city as he was building the Ka'aba with his son Ismail (as).

“Our Lord, make this a city of peace and sustain its inhabitants with the fruits of the earth…”
To this day, you can witness the fulfillment of the dua, as I noticed that just a handful of dates and a glass of Zam Zam, and you feel like you've just eaten a full meal! It is an amazing sight to see thousands upon thousands of people be all accommodated with dates and water for iftar. As I sat on the ground, with strangers of different nationalities and languages, I realized that we all share only one thing in common- that we are all fasting in obedience to Allah. Everyone is the same, rich and poor, black and white, old and young, thousands gathered together and sharing the same food, and smiling at each other. I met some really nice girls from Riyadh who were staying in the neighboring hotel, and I hope to keep in touch with them.
We drove back to Riyadh from Makkah, in a record 7 hours and we've been trying to rest ever since we got back (yesterday). Now the last 10 days of Ramadan are upon us, and my husband is going for Itika'af so I'm gonna be relaxing and doing my own Itika'af at home inshallah.
I also am glad that I've been able to pray a lot more of the Taraweeh prayers in the masjid, and that I was able to pray behind some amazing Shuyukh such as: Sudais, Shuraim, Ghamdi, Kalbani, Dowsari, Luhaidan, Khalid Jaleel, Johani, and alhamdulilah many more. It has really lifted my Imaan and made me appreciate Saudi Arabia a lot more than before. It is really true that Ramadan in Saudi is one of the best times of the year here, and compared to Ramadan in other countries, I believe it definitely is much better. Alhamdulillah.

As we all prepare for the last 10 nights of Ramdan, I'd like to share an informative article with you that I'll also be using to prepare for the upcoming 10 nights:

Plan for the Last 10 Nights of Ramadan

Ramadan is coming to a close. Like the last half-kilometer of a 10km race, the finish-line is in sight. This is the time to pull out all the stops and to sprint, flat-out. This is the time when Laylatul-Qadar, the night where deeds are multiplied by more than one thousand, hides.

Are you ready for it?

Maybe you felt like Ramadan breezed by. Maybe you felt like you didn’t do enough. Well, this is your chance to make up for it. You need to finish strong, insha’Allah.

So take five minutes and make an action plan. This plan will, insha’Allah, help you milk the end of the month. Grab a piece of paper and write “Ramadan Plan” on it.

First, list two categories of historical items:
  • The Good: List all the things you did, that you’re happy with. You read Qur'an. You prayed Taraweeh. You donated $100. And so on. You need to ensure you keep doing these things.

  • The Bad: Maybe you didn’t pray tahajjud. Maybe you didn’t even pray Fajr in the masjid! List all these things. Don’t hold back.

Then, create your action plan: Pick as many items as you think you can handle, the best of The Good and whatever you can take from The Bad. Using the example above, your action plan might include: Read Qur’an, pray Taraweeh, pray Fajr in the masjid.

Then, list all the things you need to stop doing to get this to work. Maybe you watch 2-3 hours of TV a day. Or you spend six hours daily on Facebook. Whatever it is–list it, and aim to get rid of it.
It’s crucial to realize that you need to sacrifice in the short-term. You want to maximize Laylatul-Qadr. Do so, even if you’ll drop behind on things hereCheck Spelling and there for a few days.

Insha’Allah if you do this, you’ll have a strong, action-oriented plan for the last ten nights. And remember to stretch yourself. Go beyond your comfort limit. That’s what Ramadan is about–breaking the limits.

If you have any other tips, insha’Allah list them in the comments. I’d love to squeeze more benefit out of Laylatul-Qadr. May Allah give us all the tawfeeq to catch this awesome night with the best good deeds.

Bismillah,
I know I've been away for a while and its mainly because I've been extremely busy. I'm on a short vacation in Oman, visiting my parents and sister, and tonight Insha'allah I'll be flying to Canada for a much awaited summer holiday. I should be staying in Mississauga for the most part, and Inshallah a week in Vancouver, perhaps a weekend in Ottawa. I'm quite excited since I have a direct flight (thank you Etihad airways). The best part is that I'll be reuniting with my old friends, and doing all those things that I loved doing these past 8 years in Toronto. This year it'll be different since I'll be sharing all those things with my husband (my new BFF) and I'm sure that we'll have an amazing time Inshallah.
I'll try to do a couple of posts from Canada but I can't guarantee anything.
I do hope everyone's having a wonderful summer Inshallah.
Bismillah,

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