Alhamdulillaah, the blessed days are here again, and I've found myself wanting to increase my Ibaadah in order to come closer to Allah (swt).

May Allah (swt) bless the pilgrims who heading towards Makkah and grant them all, Hajj Mabroor. Ameen.

Among the many blessings of Allah (swt), are that the Hajj season falls during a very cool and pleasant time of the year this year, and Inshallah next year as well.

During the first 10 days of Dhull Hijjah, rewards are multiplied many times, and sins are forgiven much more. These are the days in which Allah (swt) gives us yet another chance to worship Him, to ask for forgiveness and correct our faults and make up for our shortcomings.

Just like the last ten nights of Ramadan are the best ten nights out of the whole year, the Ulama tell us that out of the 365 days of the year, these first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are the best days of the year and the most beloved to Allah (swt), as they combine acts of worship in a way unlike any other times.

The Prophet testified to that. He said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked, "Not even going out to fight for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing." (Bukhaari)

The question is, what do I do on these magnificent days and how can I make the most of this perfect, golden, golden opportunity to earn rewards and Jannah?

Obviously, Hajj is one of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days. However for those of us who were not invited to His House this year, there are still many, many good deeds that one can do and earn the Pleasure of Allah (swt)

Some of these are:

1) Fast all nine days and especially fast the Day of 'Arafah:
The Prophet said: "Anyone who fasts for one day for Allah's pleasure, Allah will keep his face away from the (Hell) fire for (a distance covered by a journey of) seventy years." (Bukhari, Muslim)
Just imagine, if you fast these nine days (fasting on Eid is haram), how far your distance will be from hell!

The Prophet used to fast on the ninth day of Dhu'l-Hijjah and he said: "Fasting the Day of 'Arafah (ninth Dhul-hijjah) is an expiation for (all the sins of) the previous year and an expiation for (all the sins of) the coming year." (Muslim)

2) Do a lot of Dhikr and Takbeer:
The Prophet said: "There are no days on which good deeds are greater or more beloved to Allaah than on these ten days, so recite much Tahleel (saying Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah), Takbeer (saying Allaahu akbar) and Tahmeed (saying al-hamdu Lillaah)." (Ahmad -Saheeh)

Ibn 'Umar and Abu Hurayrah used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Dhu'l-Hijjah, reciting Takbeer, and the people would recite Takbeer when they heard them. (Bukhari)

Takbeer at this time is a Sunnah that has mostly been forgotten, especially during the first few days. So say it in the masjid, in your home, on the street and every place where it is permitted to remember Allaah. Revive the Sunnah that have been virtually forgotten and earn great rewards for doing so.

The Prophet said: "Whoever revives an aspect of my Sunnah that is forgotten after my death, he will have a reward equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward." (Tirmidhi- a hasan hadeeth)
Obviously, men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.

3) Stand in Night Prayers:
Remember the virtues of spending the night in prayer, and its sweetness in Ramadan?! Why not revive this beautiful act of worship during these nights as well?!
Remember, how in the last third of every night, Allah Almighty calls out to us, His servants:
Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him? (Bukhari, Muslim)

Why do we miss this golden opportunity? So, seize the chance NOW and expose yourself to His Divine Generosity and Mercy, ask Him to forgive you and guide you and set things aright. He will surely listen.

4)Make Sincere Repentance:
One of the best and most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah (swt) and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin right away because we do not know when we will die, and also because one evil deed leads to another.

But what does 'repentance' exactly mean?
It means that you come back to Allah and give up all the deeds, open and secret, that He dislikes.... that you regret whatever you did in the past, giving it up immediately and be determined never ever, to return to it, and resolve to adhere firmly to the Truth by doing whatever Allah (swt) loves.

"But as for him who repented, believed and did righteous deeds, then he will be among those who are successful."
[al-Qasas 28:67]

5) Come back to the Qur'an:
It is time now to dust off your copy of the Qur'an and return to its refuge.Make it a daily habit, using these 10 days the beginning of a strong and beautiful relationship with it. Read it with meaning, understand it, and then implement it and change your lives for the better, as much as you can. Remember that reading one letter of the Qur'an earns you 10 rewards. In this way, reading Surat Al-Fatihah,which doesn't take more than two minutes will give you more than one thousand rewards! This is on ordinary days, so what about these magnificent days! Certainly the reward will be far greater, Insha Allaah.

6) Generally increase in doing ALL good deeds:
We should strive in doing more good deeds in general, because good deeds are beloved by Allaah and will bring us closer to Him. So if we are not able to go to Hajj this year, we should occupy ourselves during these blessed days by worshipping Allaah, praying extra prayers, reading Qur'aan, remembering Allah (swt), sending Salaams on the Prophet , making dua, giving charity, honoring our parents, upholding ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, and other good deeds and acts of worship.

"So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it; And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom, shall see it."
[al-Zalzalah 99:7-8]

7) Get the reward of Hajj wherever you are:
You may be unable to do Hajj this year, and you may feel sad because you are deprived of the great reward of Hajj. But you can achieve a similar reward in whatever place you may be.
The Prophet said: "Whoever prays Fajr Prayer in congregation, and then sits and remembers Allah until the sun rises, then (after a while) prays two rak'as, he will gain a reward equal to that of making perfect Hajj and Umrah." [He repeated the word "perfect" thrice.] (At-Tirmidhi)
Isn't that easy, Alhamdulillah?

8) Slaughter an animal and distribute the meat:
Ibn Umar said: The Prophet lived in Madeenah for 10 years and every year he slaughtered an animal." (Ahmad-Saheeh by al-Albaani)

9) Attend Eid prayers:
But remember that Eid prayer is a form of worship and we shouldn't be doing things that are unIslaamic (especially) during these times.

10) Thank Allah (swt):
One of the biggest forms of worshipping Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta'ala is to thank Him, deeply, sincerely and continuously. After all, it is He who gave you every single thing that is in you, on you or around you. In fact, you wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for the Mercy of your Creator. So thank Him for ALL that He gave you, the Islaam that He gave you, the very life He gave you. And thank Him for the chance that He gives you in these ten days, to ask for forgiveness and guidance.

Alhamdulillah, there is much to be gained in these coming days. So make the most of this perfect opportunity offered by these invaluable and irreplaceable ten days. Hasten to do good deeds and appreciate this blessing and make the most of it, striving hard in worship.

"And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (death)." [al-Hijr 15:99]
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَذُو فَضۡلٍ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَشۡڪُرُون
Indeed God is the possessor of bounty for all people but most people do not give thanks.
[Al-Baqara 2: 243.]

The past few days have been quite a roller coaster of emotions for me:

-I had to solve a big problem of getting my stuff to my final destination (Riyadh) in the fastest, easiest and cheapest way possible.

-My hub. has been apartment hunting, and after a week of looking he managed to chance upon the perfect place. However the perfect place was also a tad expensive and the landlord wanted the full rent for the year immediately. That caused a bit of a panic as well as the fact that the landlord said he wouldn't promise us the place till the cash was in his hand. Sooo, there was a lot of decision making and...

Everything worked out!! He included an extra month free because my hub. won't need the place till Jan. '09, and I'll be moving in Feb. '09 Inshallah, so it's a bit of a waste to start the lease in December.

The apartment issue is now resolved. We have the place, the landlord seems like really nice guy Mashallah, and everything worked out beautifully in the end. Alhamdulillah.

The issue regarding my stuff has been kinda solved, at least for the more important items, but getting my books across to Riyadh seem to still be a problem. Inshallah I'll be able to figure out a way.

As I was discussing the minor details of my apartment last night with my hub, I realised that Alhamdulillah, everything has been going very smoothly for me and I've been so blessed with everything according to my necessities. I've always been picky living in middle eastern climates because I can't be comfortable without AC, and this apartment comes fitted with not 2 or 3 but FIVE split ACs (including one in the kitchen). It saves us such a huge amount of money, a very rare find in Riyadh. Also, I can't stand living in places that have been used & abused badly by previous tenants. Alhamdulillah this place is brand spanking new, everything is sparkling white & freshly painted. It has beautiful ceramic floors, so no need for wall to wall carpeting and 2 large bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 2 living rooms (one is more formal like a majlis room for gatherings) and the other is like a casual sitting room. Of course there's a kitchen as well as a pantry/storage room. The feeling I experience when I think about the place, is like an artist who is given a clean, white canvas to *work their magic* on. Alhamdulillah. The extra perks are that the building is new, the area is fantastic, very close to a nice compound, there are mainly Western Muslim families around us, extremely close to a very large masjid and my hub's colleagues and families live right around the corner so I won't feel isolated or alone.

The main topic of my post was actually to reflect on my many blessings:

Alhamdulillah, I've been so blessed throughout my life, I've been born into a wonderful family with amazing parents, and they gave me the best education and upbringing. In Canada I was blessed with wonderful friends and companions, and blessed with the protection of the Almighty. I was also blessed with the ability to acquire an Islamic education and with a very nice place of employment during my stay there. When I decided to leave Canada, I was blessed with a wonderful husband and now I've been blessed with the ability to live so close to the holiest sites of Islam and blessed with a beautiful home.

I can't even count my blessings because I've had so many that I can't even recall. I try to always praise Allah (swt) and to be grateful to my Creator for His generosity and mercy and kindness towards me, even though I'm not worthy of these many blessings. I realise that nothing and no one have the power to give me anything except Allah (swt). As He says in the Quran:

Is, then, He who creates comparable to any that cannot create? Will you not, then, take heed? For should you try to count Allah's blessings, you could never compute them. Allah is, indeed, All forgiving, All compassionate; and Allah knows all that you keep secret as well as all that you bring into the open. [an-Nahl 16:17-19]

And I keep on reminding myself of the hadith, in which the Prophet (saw) is reported to have said:
How wonderful is the case of a Believer! There is good for him in whatever happens to him -and none, apart from him, enjoys this blessing. If he receives some bounty, he is grateful to Allah and this bounty brings good to him. And if some adversity befalls him, he is patient, and this affliction, too, brings good to him. (Muslim.)

I try to remind myself of the importance of being grateful to Allah (swt), because it is a characteristic of those people who hold on to Allah (swt), and it's a sign of Imaan, because Imaan implies shukr (gratefulness) as opposed to kufr (ungratefulness). A disbeliever is ungrateful to the Being who has given him everything, whereas a believer is one who is ever thankful for all that Allah (swt) has given him.

Finally, I would like to remind myself as well as those reading that, Allah (swt) Himself says in the Quran:

وَإِذۡ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمۡ لَٮِٕن شَڪَرۡتُمۡ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمۡ‌ۖ وَلَٮِٕن ڪَفَرۡتُمۡ إِنَّ عَذَابِى لَشَدِيدٌ۬

If you are grateful, I will surely give you more and more, but if you are thankless, verily my punishment is indeed severe.
[Ibrahim 14:7]

Part of my previous post, entitled "The Descent of Humanity...?" included a brief description of Prisoner 650 who has been held in Bagram Prison, Afghanistan and subjected to the most brutal of tortures and punishments. The description of her torture is spine chilling and brain numbing.

We should all include this unknown prisoner in our prayers and duas.

Recently Yvonne Ridley as well as many others claimed that it had been Dr. Afiya Siddiqui, but American authorities have admitted its not her; its another woman who might still be there, suffering.

With regards to this situation, Imam Anwar Al Awlaki has written a beautiful article that highlights the importance of the Muslim Ummah uniting to stop such atrocities from occurring.

Here is the article:

A Pakistani Muslim woman had been held in the notorious Bagram Prison in Afghanistan for years and now her current whereabouts unknown.
Have you heard about her? Most likely not.

A Muslim woman is lingering in such a torturous jail and no alarms have gone off in her country or in any part of the Muslim world. How low have we, as an Ummah, stooped to not only allow such a thing to happen, but to be so oblivious about it?

Not much is known about her. Why is she there? What crime has she committed? She is a ghost prisoner. If not for eyewitnesses, such as the former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Moazzam Begg and interest raised about her case by journalist Yvonne Ridley, we wouldn’t have heard anything about her.

When some Jews dared to uncover a Muslim woman, it didn’t take long for the banners of the Muslim armies led by the Messenger himself to hover around their fortresses. They where defeated by the Muslim forces, and the entire Jewish Community, (not just the perpetrators) where driven out from Madina — all of them, down to the last man. This is how serious such a matter is.

Centuries later, a Muslim woman was taken prisoner by the Roman Army and called for help from the Abassid Khalifah of the time, al Mu’tasim. He immediately ordered a mobilization of forces and led those forces himself in an attack of Roman territory in response to the call of a single Muslim woman. The response to her plea from the Muslims of that time was the complete severance of diplomatic relations, and Declaration of War against the superpower of the time.

But today, no one knows or even seems to care about this woman who has disappeared into US custody for years.

The Messenger of Allah, as narrated in Sahih al Bukhari, said: “Release the prisoner.”

It is a clear and direct order to Muslims until the end of time. The Scholars of Islam state that if a Muslim in the East is taken prisoner, it becomes mandatory on the Muslims of the West to seek his release, even if that would lead to them expending all of their wealth.

In addition to this sister being a prisoner, she is also a woman. Islam gives special protection for women and children, and the honor of the Muslim Ummah is in their protection of their women.

The first ayah that allowed fighting in the path of Allah justified it for the defense of women, children, and the weak.

Allah says: And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!” (al Nisa 75)

I pray to Allah to release our sister and all our brothers and sisters from the prisons of the tyrants. Ameen

Courtesy of Anwar al Awlaki . Com
I love researching current world events and happenings.

Something that's been on my mind for a while is the situation in the US concerning the capture and detainment of an American-Pakistani woman, a PhD from MIT who was quietly captured in Pakistan by American authorities, smuggled off with her 3 young children to Bagram Prison in Afghanistan, and then eventually to America.
Her 2 children remain missing, no one knows where the American/Pakistani/Afghan authorities may have put them. SubhanAllah, what irks me the most is that her youngest child at that time was only 1 month old. Allah knows best if he's even alive or not.

Here's an excerpt from a few articles regarding her detainment:

"Dr. Afia Siddiqui left her mother's house in Karachi, Pakistan, along with her three children, in a cab on March 30, 2003 to catch a flight for Islamabad, but never reached the airport. The press reports claimed that Dr. Afia had been picked-up by Pakistani intelligence agencies while on her way to the airport and that she was handed over to the FBI. At the time of her arrest she was 30 years and the mother of three, the oldest of which was six and the youngest only one month.

Dr. Afia's whereabouts at that time remained unknown, however there were reports of a woman called 'Prisoner 650' being detained in Afghanistan's Bagram prison and that she has been tortured to the point where she has lost her mind. Britain's Lord Nazeer Ahmed, (of the House of Lords), asked questions in the House about the condition of Prisoner 650 who, according to him is physically tortured and continuously raped by the officers at prison. Lord Nazeer has also submitted that Prisoner 650 has no separate toilet facilities and has to attend to her bathing and movements in full view of the other prisoners.

In August 2008, she was charged in United States District Court with assaulting and attempting to kill US personnel whilst in detention in Afghanistan. As a result of the assault, she was shot in her chest and brought to America.

Newspaper reports all over the world say that Siddiqui's health is very frail, over and above her recent gun-shot wound. The reports state that: one of her kidneys had been removed while in captivity; her teeth had been removed; her nose had been broken, and improperly reset; that her recent gun-shot wound had been incompetently dressed, was oozing blood, leaving her clothes soaked with blood.

An August 11, 2008 Reuters report stated that she had appeared at her hearing in a wheelchair, and that her lawyers pleaded with the judge to make sure she received medical care.

In September of 2008, US authorities confirmed that the 11-year old boy they claim to have captured with Dr Aafia Siddiqui is her son Ahmed. According to a report in the Washington Post, in a letter to Siddiqui’s family, US authorities said that photos and DNA tests strongly suggest that the youngster in Afghan custody is Siddiqui’s son Ahmed. The boy is claimed to have been detained when police arrested Siddiqui in Karachi. Siddiqui and her three children disappeared in 2003 in Karachi. She had set out from her mother’s home on her way to the airport to take a flight to Islamabad, but she never arrived.

On September 3, Siddiqui was produced before a federal grand jury in New York, which indicted her for possession of handwritten notes referring to a 'mass casualty attack' at various prominent locations in the US, such as Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge. However, activists and her family believe that she is being targeted. "An ordinary Pakistani has been wrongfully taken to a foreign country without established judicial processes," said Dr Fouzia Siddiqui, Aafia's elder sister. Even the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has insisted that she was picked up by a Pakistani intelligence agency and handed over to the US authorities.

The picture that was released when she was brought to the court in New York showed a woman who seemed to have experienced years of torture - a broken and badly fixed nose, made up teeth, and crumbled lips. The HRCP described her as a person "almost as if on the deathbed". Gaunt, wounded, she was unable to even walk by herself. Her resurfacing, and that too in such a frail condition, sent shock waves throughout Pakistan, which has demanded her immediate repatriation.

Aafiya's brother met her in October at a Psychiatric treatment centre, and afterwards he explained the situation to Aafiya's older sister Fouzia. She later gave a press conference in which she described her sister as being frail and bent after years of physical and mental torture and sexual assaults. “Aafia has no insight to the extent of allegations against her... she was paranoid and at times delusional” said Fouzia. “I have videotapes provided by her inmates about how she was physically tortured and abused during different searches conducted by the Psychiatric Centre." She added that Aafia was so tired of the torture and abuse that she had requested the facility authorities not to put her on DNR (artificial respiratory system) and let her die. Putting her on the artificial respiratory system once saved her life when she became unconscious during torture."

That's the gist of the story. American authorities obviously have differing versions of this story and their own beliefs, but clearly, regardless of what her crimes may or may not have been, what about the age old theory of "innocent until proven guilty" ? No one deserves such treatment; this is really a crime against all humanity. Have we as a species really sunk so low?

Truly shocking.
Hi speed Internet + no responsibilities = bliss

Or so I thought...

Imagining my life upon my return to Muscat, I dreamt of days relaxing on my couch, a bowl of snacks on my left, multiple remote controls on my right, and in front of me my best friend... (unfortunately that title has only been reserved for those in the 'gadget' category, currently my laptop)

After 3 months of the above, I am now BORED.

Coming back from Toronto was one of the best things I might have done since I left home about 7 and a half years ago, however, it brings with it a list of 'non-desirables'.
This being my first post, i find it prudent to introduce myself to the blogosphere.

A young woman of Pakistani descent, born in India, raised in Muscat (first 18 yrs of my life), spent my early adulthood in Toronto, and now back to Muscat for some good ol' fashioned R&R.

In approximately 96 days, I will be married and immediately thereafter will move to Riyadh Inshallah.

The details of my adventures/experiences in the above locations will be the topic of many-a-blogs in the upcoming future as well as my impending marriage. Following that, I will be blogging intensively about life in Riyadh from an Omani-Canadian-Pakistani perspective.

Please be patient as I learn the ins n outs of blogging !