SANMWF 3rd Annual Empowerment Conference:Bring It On… Empowered Women empower women 

Like a shot of adrenaline pulsing through the veins, words of wisdom shared between women provides us with a serious dose of motivation and inspiration to be the heroines of our own stories; believe it or not, but the reality is ‘Empowered women empower women.’ 

Every year I eagerly await and anticipate the annual SANMWF Empowerment conference for Women and Youth for two reasons specifically: Firstly, to get this amazing adrenaline dose of motivation, inspiration, enlightenment and empowerment which this conference, true to its promise of dynamic and varied lineup of speakers, provides each year; and secondly, to share some of this awesome empowering inspiration with the you, the dear readers of The Muslim Woman Magazine. 

Good days and bad days, in fact just about any day, a good dose of motivation always makes us feel good: positive and renewed; ready and raring; inspired and focused. We may not always need it, but it sure does energize us. Taking my sixteen year old teenage daughter Zinneerah along with me, I was hoping she would find the same especially as the intimidating exam period looms… The conference and the day did not disappoint us, Alhumdulillah. 

This year, the 3rd annual SANMWF Conference was held at yet another beautiful venue, the Palm Continental Hotel in Mayfair, catering comfortably to the hundreds of women gathered there for the day. The program commenced with the sweet rendition of Qiraat, excerpts of Al Quraanul Kareem by the two well known Haafidhas, Juwairiyya Patel and Razina Omar. 

The dynamic power packed one day conference was all that it promised to be and more. Programme Director and MC, the well known Shamshad Sayed, PRO of SANMWF kept us entertained and informed as she shared some interesting information about the amazing legacies of Muslim women throughout the world, during the course of the day. With a hearty welcome from Sister Hawa Patel, one of the chairpersons of the SANMWF, the conference began with our keynote speaker, Magistrate Farhana Ismail. She is a practicing attorney since 2003 with fourteen years of exceptional legal experience, appointed to the bench as MAGISTRATE In 2017.  Her specialities include divorce and family law, immigration and commercial law.  She is the founding and Executive Member of the Muslim Lawyers Association; Treasurer and Board Member of the Islamic Careline; Accredited Divorce and Family law mediator.

She spoke on a Muslim woman’s recourse within the Framework of the South African Law, touching on Nikah,divorce, children and domestic violence. She enlightened us on quite a few dimensions of the law system in SA and how we can use it to benefit us as Muslim women. Her introduction was quite touching as she spoke about her parents and parents in general. Affirming that the best university are our parents; that we need to pay heed to their advices and afford them and our elders the respect they deserve. 

She afforded us some insight into her personal life and abit about her brother Zubayr who was born with cerebral palsy and lived for only 24 years and how she would assist her dear mum in taking care of this precious soul. Moving onto some of the intricacies of the law, she discussed the Muslim Marriage bill as well as the Terms Children Act in SA, sharing with us our rights as parents, that we are co holders and joint holders of parental rights, whether living together or not living together.  That, children cannot get passport, marry or travel without consent of both parents. And she also shared the breakdown of rights upon children after divorce. 

Her discussion on domestic violence and the laws an abused woman can use were very enlightening. She shared that restraining orders can be placed even whilst you are sharing a home, against the perpetrator, that they cannot enter your room and your space, to assault or abuse you or steal your possessions, this being the Protection harassment act. After her talk we were left feeling emotionally empowered and enlightened, Alhumdulillah. 

In this dynamic line up our next speaker Rahmah Ndamase, a business woman, da’ee and Muslim revert for the past seven years passionately unpacked with us why and where we need to serve humanity.  Her sentiments were that in order to make an impact we always need to serve humanity from the heart with kindness and compassion as did the Messenger of ALLAH SAW and as did the lady who won her heart over to Islam which resulted in her reversion, Alhumdulillah. 

As the lineup of speakers covered a diversity of enlightening topics, Aalimah Mahira Barbosa Ibrahim who hails from Mozambique and has attained a higher Qualification in: Arabic Grammar, Etymology,Linguistics, Qur’an Tajwid, Islamic Inheritance, Commentary and Translation of the Qur’an , Commentary and Translation of Hadith,Jurisprudenceand Legal Maxims,Etiquettes and Morals and is currently teaching at Madressah Muneeratul Banaat(Girls College for Higher Islamic Studies, discussed the wisdom of women’s inheritance in Islam, unpacking the intricacies of inheritance in such an eloquent and witty manner. 

Aalimah Mahira conveyed the undeniable truth that  women gained a high status in every aspect of Islam, as a mother, a daughter and a wife.  How can we not bear testimony to this: The first person to accept Islam was a female, Khadija RA; the first martyr in Islam was a female, Sumaya RA; the first great scholar was a female, Aysha RA. In fact her  beacon of knowledge was  uninterrupted for 48 years and she was documented as being the third or fourth greatest narrator of ahaadith. She emphasised that we women are half of society and we raise the other of half, SubhanAllah! 

Asserting the value of women which ALLAH SWT has decreed and destined for us, whilst modern day man regards and uses women as mere merchandise, a tool of business, Aalimah Mahira shared the amazing Surah and Chapter from Al Quraanul Kareem, Surah Nisaa, just dedicated to women and the laws ALLAH has placed to protect us, our lives, honour and property. She very beautifully expounded the various verses on meerath/inheritance. Again we were left feeling empowered and enlightened, spiritually so, Alhumdulillah. 

Our final speaker for the day was the internationally acclaimed British journalist and author, revert to Islam Sister Yvonne Ridley who was also a chair of the National Council of the RESPECT Party.  She was captured by the Taliban in 2001 and two years later reverted to Islam after giving her captors an understanding that she would study Islam if they agreed to release her. She shared her riveting story in the bestselling book, In the Hands of the Taliban. She is a vocal supporter of Palestine and outspoken against oppression worldwide and has undertaken speaking tours throughout the Muslim world as well as America, Europe and Australia. She is currently working on her new book, to be launched early next year, DON’T KILL THE MESSENGER which is being edited and endorsed by Jurist Mufti Taqi Uthmani.

Yvonne began telling us a little bit about her life now as she resides on a farm on the Scottish border. Her discourse on Muslim women empowerment began with the story of the most amazing empowered Muslim woman of all time Khadija RA. Her proposal and marriage to Nabi SAW and how he never forgot nor did he stop loving her even after her demise. She too reiterated that women are half  of society and give birth to the other half.  She shared stories on other inspirational Muslim women like Al Shafah bint Abdullah, the Women put in charge of the market and economy in Madinah during the khilafat of Umar RA. What she pointed out  was that the position of women in Islam was that they were already running the markets from the seventh century whilst Britain’s first ever Woman, Hilda, to be appointed was only in 1958.  Yvonne Ridley left us feeling intellectually empowered and enlightened. 

After this lineup of dynamic speakers, our day of empowerment was nowhere neardone,  Seido Tasneem a 3rd Degree Black Belt who has trained in Martial Arts and Self Defence under her father locally and internationally for over thirty years specialising in classes for ladies where she teaches extensive self defense for women and girls, demonstrated and taught us some very invaluable self defense moves, that had us itching to try it out…quite physically empowered and enlightened did she leave us too. 

Before the conference concluded with its delicious as always, luncheon, we participated in an interesting discussion and Q & A session with a dynamic panel, consisting of the prolific speakers as well as more panelists who continued to inspire and motivate us.  Here we heard the wise sentiments of Dr Fátima Bhabha, Co-Founder of Beauty and Curves, a Cancer surviver and motivational speaker.  She was followed by Farzana Mayet, the CEO of Panache Promotions and Events, who empowered us through her awesome positive affirmations, my favorite being, ‘Let your passion be your paycheck’, and enlightened us how to become successful business entrepreneurs.  She is also the initiator of the renowned WOMEN OF WONDER Awards. After Farzana, we encountered the young and passionate Naeema Hussein Al Kout is who an Honours Graduate in Physiotherapy and currently completing her community service at Helen Joseph hospital. She was born into a multicultural family wherein she was exposed to diverse societies where Islam was a common factor. Her many passions include Qiraat ,football and community development.  She was infact the only female footballer to play with her hijab on at various prestigious  club championships and has served on various committees and NGO’S. She  shared her belief on how we can excel in all spheres of life without compromising our Islamic faith and identity. The final panelist was Advocate Shubnum Mayet, an advocate by profession  but a humanitarian   by choice;she is the co founder of PROTECT THE Rohingya, where she uses her vast legal knowledge and expertise to ADVOCATE THE CAUSE OF THE ROHINGYA PEOPLE. She passionately unpacked the depth of genocide and our role as fellow Muslims, humans and humanitarians.  The entire team of prolific speakers and inspirational panelists left us feeling, yeah you guessed it… enlightened and empowered. 

Other personalities from Islamic and Muslim Media gracing the 3rd Annual SANMWF Conference were: Safeera Kaka of Cii, who introduced the internationally acclaimed Yvonne Ridley; Faaiza Munshi of RI, who introduced the keynote speaker Magistrate Farhana Ismail; Faheema Patel of RI; Nafeess Dangor Sayed of Global Media; Hawa Meyer of Salaamedia; Nina Bambeni from PROUDLY MUSLIMS;Yesmien Khota Touffie of the Covered Magazine; Khudeja Pochee and myself, Rehana Shah-Bulbulia of the Muslim Woman Magazine as well as a host of profound SANMWF Chairs, Apa Ayesha Hathurani and Sister Faeeza and the chairs of the  forums from around the Province and Country. Other leading personalities present included Suraiya Nawab, Dr Attiyya Rawat Adam, Apa Fatima TTlf,  Melodious Nashid singer Bibi Ayesha Sayed Khan and Apa Farida Mokone. 

As always many will attest to leaving the SANMWF 3rd Annual Conference empowered and enlightened. And for me, what resonated within were the words that truly ‘empowered women empower women, empower others’; and a message that we as women not be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. We need to unfold ours, ourselves; not to search for a hero to safeguard our interests, but to become the heroine of our own story, In sha Allah.

{This Article appears in the November Edition 2017 of The Muslim Woman Magazine} 

Stay Inspired 

Envision your purpose and your paradise 

RSB ~Author, Journalist, International Motivational Speaker, Teacher & Student “Enough of a boast that He is my Lord;enough of an honour that I am His slave.” 

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​A Little LOVE Goes A Long Way

She marched into the Ancient Herbalist’s Clinic…ANGRY, SEETHING, FURIOUS!  She would not, she could not spend another moment under the same roof as her dictatorial mother in law.  Her mind turned; her eyes bulged; her cheeks puffed.  The Chinese herbalist was renowned for his potions and poisons.  She believed that nothing and no one could alter her mother in law’s intense dislike for her and well, now she had no wish to either.  She ordered the poison and took heed of the Chinese apothecary’s strict instructions, “Put a teaspoon of this poison in your mother in law’s tea for six weeks, before the desired result will be achieved. But ALWAYS REMEMBER that for this period of time, you have to be extra kind and loving to her, in order for this poison to work and also so that no blame will be placed on you.”

Day after day, week after week, the young lady did as she was instructed.  However, as the days and weeks passed, she found, much to her amazement, that her mother in law became her friend.  She had grown to love her and now she didn’t want the poison to work at all.  So before the final week had lapsed, she hurried off to the Chinese apothecary…panting and praying.  She would not, she could not watch this woman that she had come to love die.  When the Chinese herbalist heard her new request, he simply smiled and said, “That was not poison that I had given you, it was only fine sugar.  It was your love and kindness that changed her reaction and relationship with you.  Ah…a little love goes a long way.”


Whilst the aforementioned Chinese fable may be just that…a fable, the message and lesson is simple and sincere. If in every difficult and challenging situation, we would just take a moment and ask ourselves, “How could LOVE change this?” Indeed LOVE has proven itself to be a tangible emotion that has perpetually had the power, capacity and ability to change ways of thinking, circumstance and people.

Can there exist a single being who does not desire to receive or give it? It has the ability to tame the savage and the capacity to enlighten the ignorant. It is enshrouded in the silks of kindness, compassion and mercy. And that’s where he(sallallahu ‘alaihiwasallam)  steps in, for he was rahmatullilaalimeen-the mercy unto mankind.  We witness how our beloved Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihiwasallam)  successfully changed people’s perceptions and beliefs because of his beautiful qualities of conveying compassion, kindness and love to all who encountered him…friend and foe.


Abu Hurairah ra reported that the messenger of ALLAH SAW said, “You shall not enter paradise until you believe and you shall not believe until you LOVE one another.  Shall I not guide you to a thing when you will do it, you will LOVE one another.  Spread the salaam, the peace amongst you.” (Muslim)


As we endeavour to attain the goodness of this world/Ad dunya as well as the next/Al Aakhirah, we need to consciously comprehend that we primarily require beautiful and great sifaat/qualities to be the foundation of our lives. Just as we have found the same in the lives and examples of our beloved Nabi SAW. Ambiyaa AS, Sahabah e Kiraam RA and pious predecessors and let us understand that LOVE is a wondrous thing, with the ability and capacity to change ways of thinking, circumstance and people.  


As Mother Theresa once said, “LOVE is patient; LOVE is Kind.  It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud; it is not rude.”


Finally, we recognise that peace is the dominating principle amongst the believers and that with peace, we will, Insha ALLAH, enter Paradise. 


 “True peace begets a desire for mutual love and true love leads to true belief and belief, of course, leads to Paradise.” (Dr Fazlul Karim) And as Muadh bin Jabal ra reported that Nabi SAW shared that ALLAH says, 
 My L
OVE becomes compulsory for those who LOVE one another for my sake and for those who sit together for my sake and for those who spend lavishly on one another for my sake.  Those who LOVE one another for My Magnificence will have pulpits of light for which the prophets and the martyrs will envy them.”


Yes, Alhamdulillah, a little LOVE does indeed go along way. 

Eidul Fitr…A Celestial Celebration


Even though the brrr and icy cold winds of the winter season may taunt us, we find that the warm embrace of the resplendent month of Ramadhaan doesn’t abruptly depart.  It lingers as we are engulfed in its comforting presence a little longer, a little tighter and it departs with such a momentous gift, that the sorrow of parting becomes sweet…for it gifts us with the night and day of ‘Eid…a celestial celebration and the momentous prize giving.

When the sun sets on the last day of Ramadhaan, it is with mixed emotions that our gazes search the star studded sky for the moon of Shawaal, the moon signifying ‘Eid.  Like those savouries coated in batter enjoyed in Ramadhaan, so too is our excitement and happiness for ‘Eid coated and tinged with the sadness of Al Widaa Ramadhaan…farewell honoured guest.  Yet when it is certified that the moon has indeed been sighted, the excitement of ‘Eid takes the lead and every soul in every household begins all their preparations for ‘Eid…physical and spiritual. And as the celebrations begin here in this transitory world on the night of ‘Eid- Laylatul Jaaizah, so too do the celestial celebrations begin in the Heavens.  For our Generous Lord had spent the entire year perfuming and adorning the Gardens of Jannah for the month of Ramadhaan for the faithful servants from amongst the Ummah of His Muhammad SAW and when the striving servants, the faithful believers reach the end of this annual Ramadhaan race of worship and obedience as they had persevered and exerted themselves…what awaits beyond the physical realm as a reward for all that their souls had earned is unfathomable, has not been imagined.  Yet the exhortations of a truthful Messenger describing the promises of a Most Generous Lord deeply captivate and majestically beckon the aspiring souls…   
    

And then the night of ‘Eidul Fitr, the night that is called Laylatul Jaa’izah, the night of prize giving, comes along.  On the morning of ‘Eid ALLAH sends down the Malaa’ikah to all the lands of the earth where they take their positions at access points of roads, calling out with a voice that is heard by all except man and jinn:

‘O Ummah of Muhammad sallallahu’alaihiwasallam, come forth from your houses towards a Lord that is Noble and Gracious, who grants much and pardons major sins.’  When they proceed towards the places for their ‘Eid Salaah, ALLAH says to the Malaa’ikah: ‘What is the reward of that employee who had rendered his services?’

The Malaa’ikah replies, ‘O Lord and Master, it is only right that he should receive his reward in full for his services.’

ALLAH then says, ‘I call you to witness, O My Malaa’ikah, that for their having fasted during the month of Ramadhaan and for their having stood before Me in prayer by night, I have granted to them as reward My Pleasure and have granted them forgiveness.  O My servants ask now of Me, for I swear by My Honour and My Greatness, that whatever you shall beg of Me this day in this assembly of yours for the needs of the Hereafter, I shall grant you; and whatsover you shall ask for wordly needs, I shall look at you favourably.  By My Honour I swear, as long as you shall obey My commands, I shall cover your faults.  By My Honour and My Greatness do I swear that I shall never disgrace you among the evil doing ones and disbelievers.  Depart now from here, you are forgiven.  You have pleased Me and I am pleased with you.’

The Malaa’ikah on seeing this great reward bestowed by ALLAH on the Ummah of Muhammad sallallahu’alaihiwasallam on the day of ‘Eidul Fitr become greatly pleased and happy.” (At Targheeb)   


Whilst our spiritual sight is still unable to witness and participate in the celestial celebrations that each ‘Eid heralds…on the Day of ‘Eid take the timeout to envision, to reflect and imagine this beautiful moment which our Most Merciful, Most Generous ALLAH has shared and described to us through His Noble Messenger SAW.  This reality which will one day soon be enjoyed by every striving faithful servant of ALLAH…in a Better Place, on a Better Day.  The Ultimate ‘Eid, day of Happiness and Celestial Celebration will be that day when we will be told to enter into the peace of the Eternal Gardens of Paradise…to finally enter into that Jannah which our souls yearned to return to, which our souls painstakingly envisioned as it traipsed and trudged its way through winding paths of Ad Dunya.  This day will be for us the Ultimate Celestial Celebration…And as it has been so beautifully encouraged, “If we live our lives like Ramadhaan, indeed our death and all that follows will be like ‘Eid.”

Stay Inspired 
Envision your purpose and your paradise 
RSB 
Author, Journalist, International Motivational Speaker, Teacher & Student “Enough of a boast that He is my Lord;enough of an honour that I am His slave.” 

With A Sound Heart: Bi Qalbin Saleem

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There are those precious moments…rare and resolute when you feel every beat of your heart; hear the whisper of every breath; see every thought clearly in your mind as if they were boldly printed on a page before your very eyes.  It is in these moments that you deeply and truly comprehend the essence of yourself…your precious soul and it is in these moments that its temporary residence, your heart, feels safe, feels sound.

“On that day no wealth nor children will avail you aught, except he who comes to ALLAH with a sound/sincere heart.”(Surah Shu’arah: Verse 87-89)
The first time I truly reflected on this beautiful verse of Al Quraanul Kareem, my heart was moved.  A feeling of awe and wonder; a shiver and shudder as my physical body embraced and recognised the truth of the beautiful words of my Rabb-ALLAH as it coursed through my veins like an aneasthetic; calming and soothing as it travelled from sight to mind to tongue to heart and since that day, I find that these words continue to echo endlessly, day in day out…Bi Qalbin Saleem.

Unpacking, understanding, comprehending, reflecting and introspecting on any amazing verse of the Noble Quraan is a journey and task worth undertaking, as there can be no words more greater in impact and value than that of our Rabb; as there can be no way or path better and quicker to gain His Quroob/Proximity than through Al Quraanul Kareem…reading it, memorising it, learning it, understanding it, reflecting upon its revelation, inscribing it upon one’s mind and heart, living it…SubhanALLAH! 

Every single rhythmic verse revealed from Lowhul Mahfooz to Baitul ‘Izzah to our Beloved Nabi Muhammad SAW, descended with a pronounced purity and purpose.  It is sad and unfortunate that we as Muslims and the Ummah of Muhammad SAW, the lovers and reciters of Al Quraanul Kareem, have not fully attempted to delight in this treasure trove from the Realm wherein resides our Rabb, a Divine opportunity to listen to His Majestic Speech…SubhanALLAH! 

Each year when the month of Ramadhaan departs, we physically ache with the loss of it, exactly like the way we feel at the farewell of a loved one whom we yearn and pine for.  Yet, we can soothe this ache, with not only the continued attachment to the Quraan but also through continuing with similar and sustained acts of worship, towards Creator and creation, which will undoubtedly leave the heart feeling safe, sound and sincere…indeed the way we need our hearts to be when we meet our Lord on that Great Day…Bi Qalbin Saleem.

“Truly in the body there is a piece of flesh which if it be sound, all the body is sound and if it be diseased, all the body will be diseased.  Truly it is the heart, ” shared Muhammad SAW with his companions. (Bukhari) The state of our hearts determine what we do with the ‘ilm and knowledge we attain; how the Quraan and words of Nabi SAW affect our thoughts and emotions; how we are drawn or repelled by sins and if the heart is not sound and not sincere…it will indeed be as the Quraan describes such a heart, one that is sealed.  Such a heart is not only closed but sealed to the light of knowledge, the healing and mercy of the Quraan and goodness cannot reach nor penetrate it…ALLAH save us.

The heart then becomes an abyss of the darkness of diseases of the heart; filled with jealousy, malice, envy, greed, show, arrogance, hatred, anger, grudges.  A wise and pious man used to make the du’a, “O ALLAH, Purify me heart of everything but You.”
Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Kathir have conveyed that we think and understand not with the mind and brain, rather that we think and understand mostly with the heart.  That it is indeed the heart that is the centre of function. 

In fact ALLAH SWT has used three different words, throughout the Quraan when referring to the heart. Qalb- the general and more commonly used word.  It is derived from the root word or letters which mean something that turns around and changes easily.  Fu’aad- the root word means burning or flame, when the heart is inflamed with emotion. As ALLAH used this word in the Quraan to describe the state of the heart of the mother of Moosa AS.  And finally Sadr-meaning chest or bosom.  When ALLAH refers to secrets and motives that lie within the hearts, like in Surah Naas.

When and how do we know that we are with a sound heart-Bi Qalbin Saleem?  Signs of a sound heart are those that are inclined towards Salaah, Quraan, Dhikr and good deeds; wherein thoughts and emotions flow within the fountain of pleasing ALLAH; a physical and tangible pain is felt when disobeying ALLAH; repairing and returning to ALLAH easily and quickly in repentance when one errs, falters and sins; finding sweet solace in worshipping and pleasing ALLAH SWT; and a constant concern that ALLAH accept ones good words and good deeds…that is Bi Qalbin Saleem.

People who conveyed to us the aura of Bi Qalbin Saleem were undoubtedly the champions of Sunnah; those who strove to emulate and imbibe the teachings of Quraan and Hadith…the Sahabah RA.  It was in the time of Nabi SAW, on a few occasions as he sat in the Masjid, a certain Sahabi RA entered the Masjid and the Messenger of ALLAH SAW glanced at him, with a sweet statement fluttering off his blessed tongue, “He is a Jannatee.”  As this transpired on more than one occasion, Sahabah RA were intrigued to know why.

Another Sahabi sought the permission of the fortunate Sahabi, who had received such glad tidings from Nabi SAW, to stay with him for three days.  Hoping he would learn and observe, the reasons why Nabi SAW referred to him as a ‘Jannatee’.  After three days, he noted that he did all that the Sahabi did: praying on time as well as the tahajjud, fasting, doing good deeds.  ‘What did he do differently?’ He wondered.  And so he approached and questioned the Sahabi.  The reply he received would become and remain a learning curve for every generation of Muslims.  “I clean and clear my heart each night before I sleep.  And beseech ALLAH that He forgive me and tell  Him that I forgive those who have harmed and hurt me and I implore Him to forgive them too.”

To constantly and daily clean and clear ones heart from all else, so that nothing remains in it except ALLAH SWT…His Love, His Remembrance, His Connection.  As Asma bint Abu Bakr RA so beautifully said, “Truly my happiness is in my Imaan, my Imaan is in my heart and my heart only belongs to ALLAH.”

When that day arrives and we have no doubt that it will, let us endeavour to meet our ALLAH with a sound heart-Bi Qalbin Saleem.  Yet we know the way we live, is the way we will die and it will be the way we will be resurrescted.  Let Bi Qalbin Saleem become the vision statement by which we run the gauntlet of life by and sail the stormy seas of dunya with…for like that gauntlet and like that sea, it has a beginning and indeed it has an end. 

As Muhammad SAW raised his hands in du’a, he would beseech His Rabb indepth for a multitude of favours in the most eloquent words and of these du’as he said, “O Controller of hearts, keep my heart steadfast to Your religion.  O ALLAH Make Your love more beloved to me than myself, my family and cold water on a hot day. O ALLAH I ask You for steadfastness in matters of religion.  I ask You for the highest standard of integrity.  I ask You for gratitude over Your favours to me and excellence in worshipping You.  I ask You for an honest tongue, a sound heart and upright character.” (Munaajate Maqbool)

Bi Qalbin Saleem-with a sound heart, we implore ALLAH SWT exactly as our beloved leader and master Muhammad SAW did…Aameen Ya Rabbal ‘aalimeen

An article of mine extracted from the September  2016 edition of The Muslim Woman Magazine.

Stay Inspired
Envision your purpose and your paradise
RSB
Author, Journalist, International Motivational Speaker, Teacher & Student “Enough of a boast that He is my Lord;enough of an honour that I am His slave.”

UK 2016 Memoirs (Part 1)… 3000 Miles of Dawah in the UK

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An unquenchable thirst; an addiction that feeds the heart; a worthy past time…this is Da’wah, calling to the greatness of ALLAH.  And whose words can better motivate us than the Rabb of you and I, “Whose speech can be better than he who calls to the Greatness of ALLAH?” (S41:V33)
It is an undeniable truth that once you taste the sweetness of Da’wah, giving or listening to it…you will find yourself compelled to strive in the path of ALLAH…just to speak about Him, just to hear about Him and the beautiful way of life called Islam, called Sunnah…SubhanALLAH!

From eras and generations past till the present day and without a doubt spanning centuries to come…people will travel and spirit themselves across the seven continents and five oceans with the purpose and intent of only giving Da’wah.  Indeed it was over fourteen hundred and thirty six years ago that our beloved Nabi SAW made the greatest efforts in giving dawah, in calling people to ALLAH, in reconnecting creation to Creator.  And his efforts continue to flow and ripple throughout the ages as well as the efforts of those who emulate his legacy, this Sunnah of his and of all the Messengers of ALLAH (May peace and blessings be upon them all) of inviting to ALLAH, to Islam and to the Truth, like the continuous cascade of a waterfall.

How easy is it to plant a seed of life, of hope, of Islam when the soil has already been tilled and toiled, nurtured and prepared.  Having been invited and hosted for a women’s only speaking tour by Islamic Relief UK and Quraan Academy UK, I stepped into cities prepared to listen and learn, hearts eager and attentive, desirous and thirsty for the ‘ilm of our beautiful deen, to listen about the love of ALLAH and His Beloved, our Beloved…the Final Messenger Muhammad SAW.  Whilst I always feel unworthy of such an honour, being invited in SA and now abroad to address such noble gatherings…ALLAH and His Rasool remain worthy of being mentioned; worthy of being remembered and always always this endeavour brings honour to these very gatherings and to all those who attend such halaqahs and gatherings, Alhumdulillah.

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Everything has a beginning and the beginning of this journey, 7411.85 miles of air travel from SA to the UK and 3000 miles of road travel from city to city in the UK began for me when I made an intention, wrote out a goal and made a small dua.
Attending the two courses of Hifdh Dhowrah and Quraan Memorisation conferences with Sheikh Yayha Al Ghawthani of Masjidun Nabawi last year were life changing for my husband and I, Alhumdulillah-Masha Allah.  Not only with regards to our relationship with Al Quraanul Kareem and our journey of hifdh but even with other aspects of the brain and matters of the mind…SubhanALLAH.

Will I ever forget that Sunday, the second conference in August of 2015 as the Sheikh invited us to increase in our goals and intentions.  Having previously written five goals and intentions at the first Dhowrah in April 2015 and embalming it in positive thinking and dua, we observed these aspirations transform themselves from mere words on a page to tangible realities, SubhanALLAH! And yet again he invited and urged us to pen down, make dua and pursue positive affirmations for another ten goals.
“What to write?” I thought.  My goals for the year were satisfied.
“What more to ask and intend from such a Merciful Rabb?” I daydreamed.
And then raising my pen, I wrote.  One of these goals on this wonderful Sunday afternoon was to call to the Greatness of ALLAH, to give dawah, throughout the world.  My first choice…the UK.

Having shared my goals with no one besides my husband on our journey home from Pretoria that late Sunday afternoon, can you imagine my incredulous shock and wonder and absolute awe in the Power and Mercy of ALLAH, when the very next morning, Monday morning, I log onto my email account to reply to that morning’s emails and I find an email enquiring if I would be interested in addressing women on a speaking tour in the UK?! SUBHANALLAH!
And my favourite hadith and positive affirmation reverberated in the recesses of my mind, “I am to My servant as he expects Me to be; I respond to My servant when he calls upon Me; I am with My servant when he remembers Me.”

But the wheels of taqdeer and destiny had already being in motion as I was to learn that the Imaam of the Houghton Masjid, Moulana Arshad Fakir had taken a copy of my debut book, Falling In Love With Muhammad SAW as a gift for Sheikh Nagib Khan of the illustrious Quraan Academy based in the UK and taqdeer forged its way through the positive reference of Sheikh/Moulana Sulaiman Moola and the persistant hardwork of Salim Bhai Lorgat of Islamic Relief UK and his colleagues, Zia Salik, Ayesha and my dear tour co-ordinator, driver, personal caretaker and Ikraam supervisor, Islamic Relief fundraiser- Sister Sadia Saajid.  Allah bless them all, ameen.  And so began an amazing journey towards an awesome and most memorable experience…3000 miles of Dawah in the UK.

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Through the Mercy and Kindness of our Beloved Rabb my family and I were graciously hosted by Islamic Relief UK in conjunction with Quraan Academy UK, as I embarked on a speaking tour for women in the UK…my talk and the theme of the tour was based on an emotion that reasonates and reflects throughout the world…Discover the Power of Love.

First of all to be hosted by amazing organisations like Islamic Relief and Quraan Academy who are doing such inspirational work in the service of deen and humanity at large, was an honour that I find myself still making shukr for.  Islamic Relief’s goal, through our series of free talks and events was to create and maintain awareness and continuous fundraising for the tragic and heart wrenching situation which has become Syria…the perpetual plight of our dear mothers, sisters and children.
Every event, even though I heard the same fundraising pitch by the same sisters and watched the same clip, I found my tears meander a path down my cheeks and increase the pang of pain in my heart and compell me to want to give…of my wealth, of myself to ease the suffering of the Syrians.  And it was then that I knew another burning goal had been realised, to be a means of assisting somehow for my dear brothers and sisters of Syria, SubhanALLAH.

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We left a bright and sunny SA, 34 degrees to be exact, on Thursday the 25th of February and eleven hours and 7411,85 miles later reached the cold -7 degrees of the UK, landing at London Heathrow Airport.  The weather was a chilled cold, a bracing brrr…but the warmth and hospitality of the people of the UK more than made up for it.  To be quite honest my husband, kids and I enjoyed the change of weather and scenary, Alhumdulillah always.

With Sister Sadia, who was appointed to be with us throughout- playing a diversity of roles, ALLAH bless her, our journey of 3000 miles in the VW Tugore SUV began. From Heathrow to Hounslow, from Manchester to Blackburn to Bolton, from Batley to Rochdale, from Dewsbury to Blackburn and Bolton again, from Manchester again to Birmingham to London, from Bristol back to London, from Leicester to Naneton to Leicester and back to London-Heathrow and then another 7411. 85 miles back to SA…this was an amazing journey of Da’wah of 11 talks in 13 cities…3000 miles of Da’wah…SubhanALLAH.

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In an effort to Discover the Power of Loving ALLAH, Loving His Beloved Messenger Muhammad SAW and His creation as well as enlightening and fundraising for the Syrian Plight, we journeyed from city to city, event to event, hall to Masjid hall.  The programme lineup procured attentive audiences and receptive hearts…Alhumdulillah.  With Mcs and introductions; a Qiraat rendered by my beloved daughter or son, Zinneerah and Mohammed Usaamah; my hour talk and the finale of the moving fundraising as well as a ladies tea and booksales…Discover the Power of Love UK 2016 Tour hosted and co-ordinated by Islamic Relief UK and Quran Academy UK weaved its way throughout the cities of UK, Alhumdulillah-Masha ALLAH.

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Join me in UK 2016 Memoirs Part 2 as I share much more about the awesome organisations, Islamic Relief UK and Quran Academy UK and the outstanding efforts and work they are pursuing as well as the amazing people who form them, Alhumdulillah-Masha ALLAH

An article of mine extracted from the May 2016 edition of The Muslim Woman Magazine.

Stay Inspired
Envision your purpose and your paradise
RSB
Author, Journalist, International Motivational Speaker, Teacher & Student “Enough of a boast that He is my Lord;enough of an honour that I am His slave.”

UK 2016 Memoirs (Part 2)… In The Service of Deen & Humanity… Quran Academy UK & Islamic Relief UK

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In the canvas of all His artistry that surrounds us: from the relationship between the sun and the sky; the ocean and the land; mountains and valleys; and creatures and creations who co exist…we find a beautiful harmony, a sense of order and belonging.  And this beautiful harmony and sense of belonging is found elsewhere too…in being a part of a global family, the Muslim Ummah, SubhanALLAH!

I have always found it awe-inspiring and humbling, this feeling of truly belonging and  connecting to strangers I have just met; strangers who feel like family; not connected by the bonds of blood but by the bond of Eemaan…that’s the Muslim Ummah.  And each time I experience this, the words of our beloved Nabi SAW echo in the recesses of my mind, “The Muslim Ummah is like one body…”SubhanAllah!

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Travelling in the UK in the company of my amazing hosts Quraan Academy and Islamic Relief, this feeling enshrouded not only me but family too and over a month later, whilst back in SA, we miss them, the way we miss family.  The love  that ALLAH places in the hearts of believers for believers proves to be amazing, Alhumdulillah.  And it is in this train of thought, in this harmony and love that pulses through us as one ummah-one body, that we find multitudes of Muslims striving to be in the service of humanity and in the service of deen; to be of benefit to others…for the love of ALLAH; for the love of His Nabi SAW; for the love of the Ummah.

In the Service of Deen…Quran Academy
Allow me to introduce you to the dynamic founders and family of Quraan Academy, Sheikh Nagib Khan and his amazing mum Apa Yasmin and very hospitable wife Apa Anisa.  Sheikh Nagib Khan graduated from one of Britain’s most renowned and celebrated Islamic institutions, Darul Uloom Leicester in 2003.  Here he first successfully completed his memorisation of the Holy Quraan in 1997 and thereafter successfully completed the Aalim course. 

He has since then been an active member of the Muslim community in a number of different roles.  Currently he is based in Bristol and the South West where he has successfully established the first Quraan Academy providing a unique service to the Muslim community of the South West of England.  He also regularly delivers Islamic lectures at various locations in the South West.

Sheikh Nagib shared so many inspirational stories regarding the efforts and work of Quraan Academy.  Yet what that stood out for me, was how Quraan Academy was in fact the brain child of his dear mum, Apa Yasmin.  She enthusiastically makes effort for advancing Quraan Academy’s efforts on any front, SubhanALLAH!  And her passion for giving da’wah to Al Quraanul Kareem is amazing, something which I witnessed at our Leicester event first hand.  She has set phenomenal goals and standards of handing out the English translation of the Holy Quraan, to individuals and groups of non Muslims, in and around the UK.
Not even on holiday does she forsake this personal commitment of da’wah to Al Quraanul Kareem, having a minimum of Quraans packed in a bag to hand out on a daily basis. In 2015 she gave out 30 000 English Quraans…this left me awe struck and deeply inspired, SubhanALLAH!    

Quraan Academy usually partners with a fundraising organisation like Islamic Relief in order to assist one another in a relationship of mutualism, where the minimum of two objectives are realised…the Muslim communities of UK are enlightened and inspired with various scholars of deen from around the world and at the same time funds are raised and awareness created and maintained regarding the various plights and conditions facing the Ummah and humanity at large.  From my first hand experience, I viewed this to be a beautiful and beneficial relationship,  to truly establish the various facets of deen, like ‘ilm (knowledge) and ikraam (service to people).

In the Service of Humanity..Islamic Relief
Being a Muslim, being part of one global Ummah, the Ummah of Muhammad SAW, is not easy on the heart and mind.  For when the atrocities faced by our brothers, sisters and children around the world, comes crashing into our lives via the media, we become distraught and disturbed.  Our hearts physically ache for we are bonded by Eemaan; worry and sorrowful thoughts run rampant through our minds and we wonder, “What can I do to help them?  How can I be a means of soliciting solutions for my mothers and sisters?” And whilst du’a will always be the first and foremost weapon and wealth of a believer, we still feel the restless need to mobilise ourselves and do something…anything.

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This is where organisations like Islamic Relief UK, amongst many others steps in.  The phenomenal work that Islamic Relief do in assisting those in any need, Muslim or non Muslim, locally in the UK or anywhere else in the world is nothing short of amazing, SubhanALLAH!  And the passion and enthusiasm that drives them is very contagious, as my daughter and I found during our UK tour, Alhumdulillah-Masha ALLAH!

Encounter some of the IR team members I was blessed to meet and interact with during the tour: Sister Sadia Sajid (Tour and Challenges Co-ordinator), Salim Bhai Lorgat; Apa Hafsa Lorgat; Sister Ayesha, Brother Zia Salik, Sister Mariam, Sultan Bhai and many other committed volunteers.  Whilst their volunteer response in every area is superb, there are many who work for Islamic Relief on a full time basis.  And when I say full time, the long hours that they pull to complete projects, will render you speechless…just to benefit others and make that difference, SubhanALLAH!     

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The initiative that was apart of my speaking tour, was the raising of funds to feed poverty stricken families in Syria, with the suggested donation being £72 pounds feeding two families for two months.  With IR’s powerpoint presentation, of mothers being interviewed in Syria regarding their plight, literally evoking streams of tears, many happily opened their hearts and pockets, filling in pledge forms for monthly contributions for this noble cause, SubhanALLAH!  At one event, it was shared that a phenomenal £23 000 pounds was raised, Alhumdulillah-Masha ALLAH.

To be a part of such humbling, humanitarian efforts left me in a state of gratitude as well as feeling deeply compelled to continue to be a part of any like-minded initiatives.  Whilst my mind and notes are filled with many awe inspiring anecdotes regarding Islamic Relief-IR , I will share but a few with you.  In January of this year, UK faced some seriously damaging weather conditions like floods.  As weather forecast reports rolled out, IR teams and volunteers mobilised themselves to these various cities in which there were possibilities of their river banks flooding.  And in one such city, within a few hours five thousand tons of sand was packed and stacked around the river banks to prevent such flooding.

Another very interesting story was shared by my dear Tour Coordinator Sister Sadia, regarding an incident of the EDL’s hostility in the UK towards the Muslims.  In this specific situation threats were made against a Masjid in a certain locality and they intended to wreck it to the ground.  The Imaam discovering the EDL’s intentions, contacted the Islamic Relief workers and volunteers of that area.  Within an hour there was literally about hundred men, Islamic Relief workers and volunteers surrounding the Masjid.  When the EDL leader and his group arrived, they were shocked at the sight which awaited them.  Whilst the EDL’s initial stance was nasty and aggressive, the Imaam and the IR team engaged them in dialogue.  Late into that night, an amazing sight was witnessed, the EDL and Islamic Relief workers were playing a game of soccer…SubhanALLAH!

Islamic Relief is an organisation that has been established in many countries throughout the world, including here in SA.  And thus their efforts in serving humanity has been far reaching.  Currently campaigning for their Water For Life challenges, wherein people pledge funds and participate in unique adrenalin pumping activities…all for the sake of raising funds for water. From trekking the 9000km of the Great Wall of China, to the base camp of Mount Everest in Nepal, to Snowdon in England and Wales to Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, to skydiving, bungee jumping as well…all in the spirit of raising funds for the Water for Life Campaign.  The reality check which IR commences this exciting leaflet with, is the sad statistic that,”Dirty water kills two million children every year.”

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We all can’t do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.  And when each of us step up, we invite others to step up too.  This is what it means to be in the service of deen; in the service of humanity, just like these inspirational organisations, Quraan Academy UK and Islamic Relief UK, whom I was blessed to be hosted by, Alhumdulillah.  And as I conclude this article I find the Quranic verse, IR’s slogan, reverberate endlessly in my mind, “And whoever saves the life of one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.” (S5:V32)
An article of mine extracted from the June 2016 edition of The Muslim Woman Magazine.

Stay Inspired
Envision your purpose and your paradise
RSB
Author, Journalist, International Motivational Speaker, Teacher & Student “Enough of a boast that He is my Lord;enough of an honour that I am His slave.”