Ramadan – Choosing to Quit Social Media

Each lunar year, Ramadan comes around for one month only, and has such great spiritual benefits that one wishes to hold it with them throughout the year. I’ve realised how much time gets wasted on social media, so I have decided to detox from it for at least one month and use my time for spiritual upliftment.

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Ramadan is not just a month of fasting from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, but it’s also a time to gain closeness to our Creator. Its about fasting our souls, our eyes, ears and tongues. It’s about carrying out extra charitable acts, being extra kind to our neighbours, engaging in the remembrance of Allah swt (dhikr) most importantly its about reconnecting with the Noble Quran which was revealed in the Holy Month of Ramadan.

The days of Ramadan are split into three thirds as follows;

First ten days  of the Blessed Month of Ramadan are the days of Mercy.
We seek Allah’s Mercy in these days.
*Rab-bigh-fir war-ham wa Anta Khair-ur-Raahimeen. (Surah Al Muminun:118)My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for You are the Best of those who show mercy!

The second ten days of Ramadan are the days of Forgiveness
So we should seek Allah’s forgiveness and repent for sins in those days.
*Allahum-magh-fir-li dhunoobi Ya Rabbal Alameen
Rabbana Fagh-fir-lana dhunoobana wa kaf-fir-‘anna sayyi-aatina wa ta-waf-fana ma-‘al abraar. (Surah Al-Imran:193)
Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and remit from us our evil deeds, and make us die in the state of righteousness along with Al-Abrâr (those who are obedient to Allâh and follow strictly His Orders).

The last ten days of Ramadan are to seek Refuge in Allah from the Hellfire.
*Allahumma Ajirna min-an-naar.
O Allah, protect us from the fire.

To my Muslim followers:
May the crescent shaped moon brighten your path towards enlightenment
May The Almighty bless you with peace and grace
May your home be filled with love and blessings in abundance
Live this Ramadan like it’s your last
May all your prayers be accepted
Love and Light from my home to yours

To my Non-Muslim followers:
Please forgive our shortcomings
If we come across as grumpy during this month, please understand that perhaps we’re just experiencing hunger pangs (still not an excuse for our grumpiness)
Love and Light from my home to yours

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Getting Ramadan Ready

Every year, for the past few years, I have one intention only when it comes to Ramadan….and that is to have a better Ramadan than the previous year.

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With that being said, having a better Ramadan for me doesn’t include making better savouries than the previous year or trying the new gourmet samoosa fillings and is the latest craze on Instagram. I’ve been asked on many occasions how my Ramadan prep is going, and I’m so tempted to tell people off, but I resort to saying something along the lines off “I haven’t started yet.”

imagesIt’s taken me years to realise and appreciate the true gift of Ramadan. For me to long and yearn for the feeling of bliss that I’m enveloped in when this auspicious month arrives. And therefore, my Ramadan build-up has very little to do with food but everything to do with spiritual preparation.

During the months’ of Rajab and Shaban, I increase my fasting on Monday’s and Thursday’s. I also, whenever possible, fast the three white days (full moon, 13th, 14th,15th) of the Islamic lunar calendar. I increase my Quran recitation after fajr salaah (morning prayers) and increase my daily dhikr. This for me is becoming Ramadan ready. I start limiting screen time (social media and the already little TV I watch). I start spending my time more in the remembrance of Allah rather than waste time away.

ramadan1During Ramadan, I switch of completely from social network. Every account is logged out off and apps removed from my phone. I know how 2 minutes can easily turn into 20 while scrolling through my Instagram feed, hence the drastic measures I have resulted in taking. My time in Ramadan is more valuable than the strongest currency and I need to be accountable for every minute that I spend. I don’t know if I will be blessed to experience another Ramadan; hell, I don’t even know if I’m going to see the one that is just weeks away. And for this reason, I feel I need to make the most of this time that I have.

 

My First Fundraiser as an Event Planner

This past weekend I delivered my fundraising event as an Event Planner at an NGO. Just typing that sentence sends goosebumps down my spine. Not only was this a dream a few years ago, it is everything I prayed for…Fundraising, Event Planner and working for an NGO.

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Our Hike Leader, Fatima Sait briefs the group

The event was a ladies hike lead by the renowned Fatima Sait (follow her amazing blog Fats on a Mountain) The group consisted of 26 ladies and we started bright and early on Sunday morning. The initiative for the fundraiser was the water crisis in Cape Town. All funds raised will be going towards installing a well point at a location yet to be established. Once we’ve completed this well point, I intend to do further fundraising to install a filtration system at the same location. Filtration systems can cost anything between R30 000 and R100 000. This is not going to be an easy task, but, I believe with the right frame of mind, correct events and amazing people, nothing is impossible.

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We hiked up to the 5 dams that are situated on the Table Mountain National Park. For many of the women, this was a first time experience. I was a bit stressed that the route might be too hard for some, but I have so far only received messages of thanks and gratitude for the beautiful morning. We had two ladies who turned around early into the hike as they felt they were not fit enough to continue. This was a very brave decision, as sometimes we tend to believe that we will conquer the mountains, when in fact, the mountains are so much more mightier than we are.

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The hike was completed in our allocated six hours and was nothing short of amazing. I have met some phenomenal women during the planning and executing of this event that I would not have met on any other occasion.

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Discovering Your Life’s Purpose

‘If you’re alive, there’s a purpose for your life” Rick Warren

Have you ever sat and wondered what your life’s purpose is? A question I believe that everyone has asked themselves at some point in their lives. A question that tends to pop up whenever one is feeling a bit deflated, unmotivated or uninspired.

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I have found that one’s purpose is not lost, so we cannot “find” it. Instead, we search for it, but not on the outside. It’s within us, but we need to pull back layer after layer until it reveals itself to us. Our passions and purpose work hand in hand, and it takes one to discover the other. However, sometimes we’re aware of what our passions are, we’re just not sure how that can become or be part of our life’s purpose.

Get Uncomfortable

Just knowing that you have to become uncomfortable, makes the task ahead seem daunting. We’re wired to associate with comfort and familiarity. We struggle to cope when we’re put into situations that are foreign to us. The first step to discovering our passions is to burst the bubble that we live in.

Our bubbles are our safety nets. It’s where everything is about “me”. It’s about “my” pleasures, “my” time, “my” comfort. It’s where we procrastinate because of our fear of failing. It’s where we avoid certain people because you cannot let them see that you still haven’t upgraded your car in 10 years. It’s where you never have time to invite friends over because your home is not quite as big as their’s. We’re so busy protecting ourselves from the way we’re perceived by others, that we forget that there is a whole world out there, that is perfectly capable of existing even if you were not in it.

Do What Makes You Happy

Love painting? Reading? Cooking?

Make time for the things you love to do. Somethings are easier to make time for than others. If its surfing you love and have a family to take care off, wake up earlier on the weekends to make time for it. Better still, get your family involved. When we do what we love, we automatically become more inspired. It is that inspiration that is needed to help discover what our purposes are. You might meet like minded people who will inspire you in doing more, getting better, or encourage you to use your talents to give back.

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Giving back

I have discovered that giving back is one of our biggest purposes in life. And when that’s themed with your passion, life automatically becomes more meaningful. Love to read, but can’t afford to make a living of it? Volunteer at an organisation where you can give some of your time teaching kids to read. Your dreary job will become more tolerable when you know that you’re giving back even if it’s in the smallest ways. Two such organisations is Help 2 Read and Shine Literacy

Life is a whole lot sweeter when you feel you have a purpose. It’s the journey that might seem long, but its worth every step of the way.

 

#3 It’s Okay To Be Vulnerable #LessonsLearned on Klimanjaro

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At Kibo Hut prior to Summit Night

We live in a time where asking for help is almost not acceptable in society. It is frowned upon and is seen as a sign of weakness. No matter how we might be struggling inside or just trying to keep up with daily demands, we need to face the world as if we have everything under control and we’re coping with all of life’s pressures.

 

The guides and fellow trekkers has played such a huge role in the success of my climb, and looking back, I know that I would not have reached my goals had it not been for them.

We were allowed to be vulnerable, weak and dependant, and we were there to assist each other. Our guides became our teachers, they monitored us and in some cases even fed us to ensure that we don’t burn out and that we’re able to continue our trek.

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One of the guides, Heaven, who carried my backpack for me

What I’ve learned on the mountain, through this experience is, that it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to ask for help. We’re not superheroes. In order for us to be the best versions of ourselves, we need the help of others. We can only give the best of ourselves if we’re in our best state of mind, body and spirit.

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Heaven eased my load by carrying my backpack
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Allan with my friend Fawzia

#2 It’s Really Not What You Have That Matters #LessonsLearned on Kilimanjaro

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Our trek started on 4 August. The morning before setting off was the last hot shower we would have, and the last buffet breakfast we could pick from until we returned on the 9 August, coinciding with Womens Day, a public holiday in South Africa.

By the first night, reality set in for me when I had to go to bed without my usual bath, cleaning myself as best I could with just wet wipes. After supper I retired to our bunk beds, crept into my sleeping bag and prayed for sleep to come. I knew that waking up to use the loo was inevitable after drinking about 2 liters of water for the day. The only problem with that is the loo is outside the hut, about 40m away….
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Every comfort that is known to me, is no longer there. I don’t have my comfortable bed with loads of cushions. There no bathrooms to just stroll into and do your thing. My fridge to open up whenever I feel like and scan it’s contents is very far from where I am. Lengthy meal plan discussions are none existent. Selecting the days clothes from a closet full has been scaled down to a 15 kg duffel bag. Viewing posts on social media is such a thing of the past.

I realise that if I don’t wrap my head around all of this real quick, I am just going to be giving myself a difficult time. I already know that none of this is permanent, so all I have to now do is be grateful for what I do have. I might not have what I want, but I have everything that I need.
We have enough drinking water. Nutritional meals. A place to lay our heads. And not to mention loads of tea!
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But what really stood out for me was that I was surrounded constantly with people and nature . Now I don’t normally do well with large groups of people, but I think I did pretty well with what has now become new family, from all walks of life, different journeys, all coming together for the same cause.
As for the nature part? I was able to take in as much as I could. There were no other commitments to rush off to….Just taking in all of what God has blessed us with.

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It wasn’t until we got off the mountain when it all became clear to me…It really isn’t what you have in life. It’s who you have in your life and what you surround yourself with. I was privileged to have spent my once in a lifetime journey with amazing human beings. Had it not been so, the entire trip could have turned out to be a complete disaster. I now have new appreciation for the people closest to me…after all, it is them who makes our lives a little more beautiful.

#1 Everything is Temporary #LessonsLearned on Kilimanjaro

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Rough roads, pain, laughter, heartache, cold, discomfort…..Like everything in life, and life itself, it is just temporary. Nothing lasts forever. I have adopted this as my mantra when I arrived at the base of the mountain. Why? Because I knew that it’s not going to be smooth sailing. I knew that I was going to be removed from every comfort known to me for the next six days. By remembering and constantly reminding myself that whatever I feel or what I’m experiencing is just temporary, I was able to keep going, and able to push myself through what is now officially known as the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Trekking Mt Kilimanjaro

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Three weeks ago today, I summited the highest free standing mountain in the world, “The Roof of Africa” Mount Kilimanjaro, 5898m above mean sea level.
This was by far, one of the most memorable days of my life, as this was not just a childhood dream, but I also got to raise funds for charity.
After six months of training, the time finally arrived for us to put ourselves through the ultimate physical and mental challenge. I have discovered things about myself on that mountain that I would never have learned in any classroom or book. The lessons I have learned will stay with me forever.

I will be doing a series of #lessonslearned in the days to follow.

#1 Everything is Temporary #LessonsLearned on Kilimanjaro

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Rough roads, pain, laughter, heartache, cold, discomfort…..Like everything in life, and life itself, it is just temporary. Nothing lasts forever. I have adopted this as my mantra when I arrived at the base of the mountain. Why? Because I knew that it’s not going to be smooth sailing. I knew that I was going to be removed from every comfort known to me for the next six days. By remembering and constantly reminding myself that whatever I feel or what I’m experiencing is just temporary, I was able to keep going, and able to push myself through what is now officially known as the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Time

1338990124_running out of timeDo we have that much time on our hands?

”I have made it impermissible for myself to waste a single hour of my life”
Hasan al Basri said;
“O Son of Adam, you are nothing but a number of days, whenever each day passes then a part of you has gone”
We think that we are made out of blood, flesh and bones
Al Hasan, the scholars of Islam would say, “No….you’re made out of time….hours”
If an hour leaves you, that’s part of you gone for good
It’s never ever going to come back
You are made of time

What are we doing with our time time?

Imagine yourself brothers and sisters, running, running to a family, your family….
Your children, wife or husband, who are on the brink on dying from thirst and you have a bucket of water, how fast are you running to get to them before they die?
Now imagine there is a hole in that bucket and you put your hand on the hole, and the water is coming out through your fingers
How would you feel to see that water dripping?
This is our analogy here on earth…we are all running towards the hereafter whether in a right or wrong direction….We’re running that way and time is falling away….hours are falling away….years are passing….and we’re not doing anything about it.

58fd135faed7aa55b4b9539078469fa0What are we doing with our time?

Waiting to ask Allah SWT for a second chance?
Allah SWT will tell us, Did we not give you lives long enough for you to receive admonition?….if you wanted to receive it?….and didn’t the warner come to you?

Time is the most valuable commodity that you possess
They say time is gold, this is incorrect, time is more valuable than gold
Gold comes and goes
But time…When it’s gone, it’s gone for good
That second that just ticked on the clock
Will never come again….

What are we doing with our time?