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Author Topic: Reflections from Upstate NY Tazkiyah Retreats  (Read 14297 times)
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« on: Mar 09, 2008 07:48 AM »


 salaam

Preparing for the Retreat

As salamualaikum wa rahmat ullahi wa barakatuh
 
I hope that this e-mail reaches all of you in a state of rising eeman and intense preparation for the upcoming retreat.
 
I would like to share a list of things to do and things not to do before, during and after the retreat - just in case any of these have slipped your mind, I thought that the reminder might be beneficial.  Please, take only that which is good.
 
Before:
 
1.   spend a few minutes everyday - at least - in seclusion focusing on your intention for going to the retreat
2.   bring bug spray
3.   engage in much dua' that Allah facilitate this retreat for you and that he firmly implant the knowledge in your qalb
4.   read books and pamphlets related to the etiquette of seeking knowledge so that you do it in an appropriate way.  The book recommended by Shaykh Hamza is interesting by imam Zarnuji.  Also, I think I remember seeing an internet article that summarizes imam ibn al-Qayyim etiquettes of learning (some leads: http://www.ghazali.org/works/bk1-sec-1.htm, http://webpages.marshall.edu/~laher1/ilm.html, http://www.ummah.com/sunnah/printsufeature.php?sufid=12 )
5.  start talking less and trying to focus on getting up for qiyaam <- more than likely it will be an integral part of the program
6.   try to read a half hizb of qu'raan in the morning and in the evening.
7.   try to listen to at least the first khatirah from the last retreat before you go
8.   make dua' for the people in your community and all Muslims
 
During:
 
1.  Talk only when necessary, while not engaging in excessive joking
2.  Talk only when necessary, while not engaging in excessive joking
3.  Talk only when necessary, while not engaging in excessive joking
4.  Keep focus on your long-term musharatah.  Never forget that you will leave the environment of the retreat in 10 or less days, what is going to be your plan when you leave
             i.      what are things you wish to remain steadfast in after the retreat
             ii.      what are those things that you will implement daily
             iii.      what are those things from home that you will now disassociate from
5.  Take copious notes, both in sessions and in informal discussions
6.  don't be shy to ask sidi Mokhtar questions- within reason of course Wink
7.  Do not forget to call your families and let them know how you are
8.  Take time for khalwa, that includes those of you that are going with "best" buds and even those that are married.
9.  Engage in much dua' that Allah facilitate this retreat for you and that he firmly implant the knowledge in your qalb
10.   Make dua' for the people in your community and all Muslims
 
After:
 
1.  engage in much dua' that Allah facilitated this retreat for you and that he firmly implant the knowledge in your qalb
2.  make sure to ask all of those that you interacted with to forgive you for any wrongs committed
3.  talk only when necessary, while not engaging in excessive joking -> let the car ride home be reflection time
4.  as shaykh jafar once said upon leaving a company  of students at a retreat - make istighfar, lots of it
5.  make dua' for the people in Ottawa and all Muslims
 
wa salamualaikum wa rahmat ullahi wa barakatuh


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Essential Items for the Tazkiya Retreat

1.  a good niyyah

You have before you a 10-day opportunity to disengage
from the mechanics, the routine and the stress of the
everyday, and focus on your relationship with Allah,
subhanhu wa ta'aala, and immerse yourself in
remembrance, contemplation and deep thinking about
Him.

Ask yourself:  Are you happy with your level of
practice and eman?  Does your qalb [heart] feel
connected to Allah?  Where are you in your spiritual
journey?  What would you like to achieve?  What would
you like to accomplish while there?

Build resolve in yourself; prepare yourself mentally
and spiritually for this time.

2.  transportation

As was mentioned in the previous email, if you need
transportation from the Albany area to the retreat
site, you *must* contact the retreat staff with the details of your
itinerary.  Please do not assume that filling out the
application form is sufficient.  If you are not in
contact with the retreat staffl, we will assume you do not need
transportation.

3. the proper gear

The retreat is located at a camp facility outside of
Speculator, NY in the Adirondack Mountains.  As was
mentioned on the website, this is a time intended for
focus on purification and discipline of the nafs, with
a de-emphasis on material things. We ask that you
bring with you only what is needed.

Some suggestions:

- For those in the Cabin: bedding, sleeping bag, and a
pillow

- For those in the Lodge: a sleeping bag (Due to the
limited space, many of those in the lodge will be
sleeping on the floor.)

- clothing sufficient for 10 days. (There are no
laundry facilities.  Keep in mind that outdoor
activites, such as hiking, canoeing etc, may
necessitate a change of clothes.  The weather varies
from moderately warm to chilly/rainy weather.  It is
recommended to dress in layers; a fleece, sweater, or
warm jacket is useful.  For sisters who wear
jilbabs/skirts, we recommend wearing pants underneath,
due to the mosquitoes and for ease of movement during
outdoor activities.  Warm clothing is especially
recommended for those staying in the cabins, as they
get quite cold at night (40-50F).)

- notebook and writing utensils (Classes take place
throughout the day in formal and informal settings.
We are often times asked to prepare summaries and
reflections for the next class.)

- a copy of the Qur'an
- allergy medication
- toiletries
- alarm clock
- flashlight
- towel
- hiking boots
- jacket and rain gear
- phone calling card (There is no cell phone service.)
- mosquito repellant, bug spray (The mosquitoes are
extremely distracting, especially near the lake.)


===========================================================
I'd like to compile some of the old retreat reflections that were posted on the board over the years. So inshaAllah here they are. If you've been to a previous retreat, or after you come back from one, please add yours here!!

writer
 jazakallahukhairan
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 09, 2008 07:54 AM »

se7en
11/30/00 at 01:02:10

as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatAllahi wa barakatuh,

This retreat last year was one of the most amazing things I've ever attended.  The scene is absolutely beautiful, to the point of being surreal.  We had the main sessions in this little wooden cabin right along side this huge lake, and under br. mokhtar's words about purifying and cleansing these hard hearts of ours we could hear the waves pound against the rocks on shore.  SubhanAllah, it was a dream for me, that area one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

We thought we'd be roughing it in the woods, but the accomodations were like hotel rooms, and extremely cheap.  Come if you can, indeed it'll impact you.

wasalaam.
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 09, 2008 07:57 AM »

Anonymous
06/26/01 at 14:53:11

Here's one of the retreat reflections from a participant:



the retreat..



It was at the same time one of the most beautiful and
incredible experiences of my life and one of the
hardest and most painful.  We were literally cut off from
what br M calls the "intoxicants of the qalb" -
television, music, books, excessive food, sleep,
speech.  It was literally like waking up.  You were
forced to realize where you were in your relationship
with Allah and the state of your heart and nafs.
wAllahi, it was so painful.  Painful because you
realize how far you are from where you want to be…
and you realize that there is so much you have to do.

The people there were some of the most beautiful
people on the planet.  Like effulgent with noor.  It
made me grieve to be around them, and made true the
metaphor br M always uses about the caravan of good
people moving on, and you being left behind. You seeing
how far ahead of you in this journey of ubudiyyah
other people are, as you are weighed down by dhunoob.
One sister was crying for the *entire* retreat.  I think I
saw her once without her eyes filled with tears.  She
was someone who realized her defeciencies and faults,
and knew where she stood with Allah.  I envied her,
truly envied her, more than anyone else in my life
because she housed something within her that I did
not possess. 

Once I came downstairs while everyone was in salah.
Everyone was standing, their heads lowered, all in
khushoo'.. the stillness in that room, the focus, the desire for
Allah, was so great you could almost touch it.  I felt
like my heart was *screaming* to be with these people,
to be like these people.  I felt like my nafs was
screaming to me, I want to be like that, I want to
have that…

We learned about tawbaah and how it is a burst from
the qalb, and not just a physical process.  With this
burst of nadm (regret, grief, pain at doing yet another
stupid thing to veil ones qalb from Allah and to just
increase the number of sins on your shoulders) comes
the desire to fix it… to rectify your condition, seek
forgiveness from Allah, and fix what you have messed
up.  I learned so much at this retreat... three to four
hour classes during the day, khawatir
that were so much longer than khawatir, adhkaar after
fajr and isha.. more knowledge than I was able to
absorb and take into this head.. but all I felt was
from the neck up.  The most I could feel from below,
from my heart, was the desire to feel something.. the
most I could do was cry in salah because I was
*unable* to cry in salah like the beautiful
Allah-seeking people around me.. I spent the majority
of the retreat wondering what the hell was wrong with
me.. wondering how it is that I could be around people
whose noor radiates so much so that I felt like a shadow,
against the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen
in my life and not feel anything in my heart..

The camp itself.. subhanAllah.. I saw some of the most
Beautiful, awe-inspiring, makes your whole body say la
ilaha illa Allah, 3d, surround-sound, nature than I ever
encountered in my short life..  trees, birds,
mountains, earth, water.. indescribable beauty. 
One night we snuck out and went to the lake.  The sky above
held more stars than I have ever seen in my life.  A storm
was building in the distance and we could see lightning flash on the
other side of the mountains.  Sitting there, all I could think was,
this night, this very night right here, is probably
the most beautiful thing I have ever encountered in my
life.  And at the same time, I knew there was
something wrong because it didn't *move* me as I knew
it should.. 

One of the things we learned was that everthing
everything around us, all of creation, is in dhikr of
Allah.  Two brothers went hiking, and they came back
with.. with this light just radiating from their
faces.  They told us how as they were in dhikr in the
forest, butterflies came and rested on their clothes.
They asked us: do we harmonize with this symphony of
dhikr around us?  Or do we add static?

I went hiking a few days later, and saw one lone
beautiful butterfly... that fluttered past me.
However foolish it may seem, it hurt.  It stung.  The
two brothers before me, effulgent with noor, attracted
this beautiful creature.  And it turned away from me.

The only thing I could think was, if being rejected by
this small creature in dhikr of Allah hurts me, how
will I feel on the Day of Judgement, when all that
were in dhikr in this life turn away from me?  When
the good Muslims who are to enter Jannah, disgusted by
what I am, turn away from me? 

When Rasulullah turns his face away from me? 

When Allah, the Most High, forgets me as I have
forgotten Him? 

La ilaha illa Allah. 

I want the mantle of those two brothers.  I want to
wear the noor they wear.  The look on their faces
haunts me.  I want that.  I want that pleasure that
comes from yearning for Allah's pleasure.  I want
those creatures to love me as they love any who are in
ubudiyyah to Allah..  It's as if before this, I've
never seen ubaad of Allah.. I've seen men but not men
like these men.

We went hiking by Augur Falls, this amazingly beautiful
place.. and I kept seeing myself in everything around
me.  There were roots everywhere, in every place we
stepped.  And then in the middle of the water we saw this
tree.. it was a beautiful tree but it's roots weren't deep
enough to keep it upright.  All I could think was
that tree was me.. the term br M uses all
the time is ‘rakhasu fil ilm’, being deeply rooted in
ilm.. and if you aren't, if you don't have roots in
ilm that are that deep, expansive, and strong, then
what you bring into fruition is not going to be
beneficial.. and if you don't have those deep roots
and you put yourself in dangerous situations, you’re going to
fall.. you're going to go under and you're going to be
taken in by an onslaught of doubt, loss of eman,
speculation etc etc

In the forest we saw this huuggee waterfall.  I
climbed up to these rocks high above it and looked
down to see all the ppl sitting, comtemplating, in
dhikr, and the rush of the whole waterfall over the
cliff.  In the middle of the waterfall was this huge
rock, jutting out.  The water was so powerful,
rushing, so loud you could't hear the person next to
you-- but that rock stood firm.  Unable to break.  I
kept willing, wanting, *hoping* for that rock to burst to
fall, because I felt like it was my qalb these past ten
days.  I felt like I was being bombarded with
everything that should make me turn to Allah in
complete and utter submission in an environment that
makes it impossible to NOT change, but I wasn't.  My
heart was still as hard as that rock even with the
power of all that water.  My dhikr was still
unfocused, my salah distracted.

We prayed on some land next to the rushing water and I
*still* couldn't focus.  My foreheard humbled to the
earth that I was made from, that I would be buried in
in Allah only know how much time, and no tears came.  I
couldn't force them.

We went canoeing a few days before we went hiking.
The waves were strong but we made it to the end of
the lake and into an inlet.  This inlet was like
jannah. It was so beautiful, so calm.  The water was still.
We saw the sun hitting  the mountains.  Flowers literally
growing up from the water.  Birds singing.  It was like
opening a door into another world. 

Then out of the inlet we went into another lake.  The winds
were building up so the water was so choppy.  We had to
keep rowing just to stay in the same place.  But we kept
rowing, we had to get to land.  We finally made it to an
island, but it was private so we had to leave.  We were
canoeing for six hours straight.  It was the most physically
challenging thing I've ever done in my life.  I
literally couldn't move my arms afterwards.

On the way back we hit the inlet again and one of the camp
leaders came to rescue us.  I was the only one who got
off the canoe and walked the rest of the way.  I was
the only one who didn't finish the mujahida, the only
one who didn't reach the finish line.  For the rest of
the retreat people discussed the canoe trip like the
mujahida of life.. that it was difficult and
challenging but it was so worth it in the end.. and I
didn't make it.  I didn't go the rest of the way, I
didn't push myself to finish it.  I failed that
mujahida and all I could think was, if I couldn't pass
the mujahida of reaching the end of water, how could I
complete the mujahida of life to return to Allah with
a qalbus saleem?

You guys probably know
more about me than any other people on the planet, but
you don't know me.  You don't know the things I've
kept from you out of shame, the things I've done or
haven't done that's just brought me closer to the
hellfire.  Things that I've been ashamed to tell you
that I will be held accountable for on the Day of
Judgement, that I will be forced to witness against
myself in front of Allah.

I came up with a list of resolutions at the retreat
and have broken some of them already. I learned a lot
of things about myself and I know what I need to work
on..

There are no words that I can use to describe the beautiful,
intense, and profound experiences I had there.  No words
can do them justice.

I don't know what this email sounds like to you but
the past ten days were some of the most beautiful days
of my life.  They hurt because waking up hurts but
it's necessary to begin your day.

Just make dua for me.
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« Reply #3 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:01 AM »

B-Calm
06/27/01 at 17:22:12

salam wa rahmat-Ullahi wa barakatuH

I just read the reflection of the brother/sister that was posted, and subhan-Allah, tears came to my eyes...I couldn't effectively verbalize how I felt about the retreat until I read that reflection...the retreat was so amazing, and at the same time, so painful.  I did however leave with some hope alhamduliLah...I asked Sheikh M if a person really wanted to make Tawba but just couldn't seem to be able to penetrate the Raan and the veil on their qalb in order to begin to feel remorce, was that a sign that the person was doomed?  I asked him if it was possible for a person to want to get closer to Allah, but that Allah would decide not to let him/her, and decides not to send a breeze of His Rahma upon their totally covered qalb, to revive it?  I asked him, and I was so scared of his response.  Then the Sheikh reminded me of the Hadith of our beloved Prophet, salla-Allahu 3laihi wa sallam, which states that if a 3abd walks towards Allah, Allah runs to them (and Allah is truely exhalted from all analogies).  I was so happy to hear those words.  This gave me hope, and it is like the driving force behind my mujahada...I want to be close to Allah...and according to this hadith, if I work hard, I can be.  Jannah, I'm not sure if the bro/sis who wrote the reflection checks this board, but if you know that they don't, could you please pass on the Sheikh's reply to my question.

jazakum Allahu khairan
Pray for me.

your brother in Islam

wsalam  wa rahmat-Ullahi wa barakatuH
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« Reply #4 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:06 AM »

jannah
06/30/01 at 15:09:25
wsalam brother b-calm Smiley

I've passed on the answer br M gave you. It's very beautiful and I'm sure it will help Anonymous and all of us!

Here are some of the things brother Ali mentioned at the end which we may be able to remind ourselves with:



Practical Steps We Learned @ the Retreat to Purify Ourselves:

  • We need to have daily doses of Ilm.
  • We should have sincere constant Tawbah.
  • We need to be in Khalwah with ourselves. We should do Musharatah with the 7 keys, Muhasaba and Muraqaba.
  • We need to perfect our Salah - perform it early and prepare for it.
  • We need to do daily adhkaar to fight Shaitan, also reading Quran.
  • We need to shut off negative means -- images, sounds, etc.
  • We have to keep away from environments that lead us to disobedience.
  • We must not keep company with those who keep us from our journey.
  • We should sleep less, talk less and socialize less.
  • We must immediately refrain from Haram and Makruh.
  • We have to increase our pool of Hasanat.
  • We should do all of these things continuously.
  • We should do Dua for each other.


If anyone remembers any more please add them here!



Asim
06/30/01 at 12:26:25
I can think of a couple more:
  • We should eat less
  • We should strive and struggle to purify ourselves 'coz it is hard work and should not be taken lightly.

Wasalaam.
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:07 AM »

Insaaf
07/16/01 at 12:40:22
Bismillah walhamdulilah wassalatu wassalamu 'ala rasoolillah

Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

SubhanaAllah, I dont know how to explain the feeling i'm experiencing right now...let alone when i read the posts about the retreat.  I feel like i'm waking up from a long sleep (literally too, i havent been on this board for a long time)

 However, the first post... the reflections, it is as if you cut open my chest and looked in upon my heart and then wrote about it.
Jazak/Jazaki Allahu khairan for that post which put me to tears.  May Allah keep you in that state of dhikr of Him, because if you stay like that, then that is a good sign.

La Hawla wala quwwata illa billah

 I felt the same thing... like why is it that i didng cry at this particular moment, when i really wanted to cry, when Sheikh M was really describing my situation, the state of MY QALB.  Because my qalb was so concealed by the raan, the veil, that i couldnt even feel the times when words were being direced towards me, when they were describing me.

 the description of the hiking trip by the two brothers really hit me, subhannAllah.  You never really know what you are missing until you see it somewhere else, and I really saw it that day.  You could literally see the purity and beauty of the state of their qulub at that moment, while they were speaking.  (Hafidhahum Allah jamee'an). I felt my qalb aching so badly that i couldnt breathe, it really hurt to see that I had a ways to go... but alhamdulilah, i wouldnt trade that moment for anything of this materialistic dunya. That reflections session had to be the most important session I have ever attended, in my life, subhanAllah.  One of the sisters talk of her experience as she was canoeing was amazing, subhanAllah, i remember it word for word.  I say i am a Abd of Allah (azza wajal) yet, how conscious am i of Him, and His creation, and that at any second, I could DIE, and will not have any more chances to utter a single tasbeeh, or to pray a single rak'a, and then what?  face Allah like this, with this stinking heart?

 I think when i fully understood what state i was in, I was able to take in every single minute of the retreat.  yes, it was extremely painful, but that is what it going to be, bittersweet... the sweetness of Ilm and the bitterness of sabr...

Alhamdulilah, as I was surrounded by some of the most amazing people i had ever met and ever will meet, I found it extremely easy to make duaa for my fellow brothers and sisters.  Even now, Wallahi, I have not forgotten any of you guys in duaa... And I ask Allah (azza wajal) to keep you in this state of dhikr and majahadah and to illuminate your qulub with His noor.

Please, Please, Please, do not forget me in your duaa as I am in great need of it.

Jazakum Allahu khairan
your sister in Islam
wasalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh


Insaaf
07/16/01 at 12:48:37
Assalamu alaikum

 I was reading Anonymous's post... and I just wanted to add to what Jannah had said ( jazaha Allahu khairan)

 is that when you are feeling so overwhelmed because you havent met your expectations and goals... you should never ever forget Allah's rahma (mercy) for His Ibad...its infinite.

 I feel the exact same way, that i have regressed back to my days before the retreat, but at the same time, I am happy that I have accomplished some things as well.

 You have to set small goals for yourself and if you walk towards Allah (azza wajjal) then He will run to you... but you have to keep walking, never stop for a breather.  If you keep on walking, Allah will give you more and more chances to breathe and relax.

 Just like we learned, one of the most beautiful acts of worship to Allah is to be always in a state of question and doubt concerning your actions and if they were accepted by Allah, because that will generate more hope and cause you to be more energetic in your Ibadah, and that is one of the most beautiful cycles of life, probably THE cycle of life.

Wallahu Allah (Allah knows best)

Your sister in Islam
Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:08 AM »

halwa
07/20/01 at 02:03:32
Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahamatu ALlahi wa Barakatuh

Subhanna Allah , i cannot describe the feeling inside of me. The reflections posted here are truely from deep inside the qalb. May Allah (Swt) give us the strength to become closer to him. ameen

I have been trying ,for almost a month now, to write down wut is happening inside my qalb. I start a sentence and then i cant find the correct word to verily define wut i feel. However, i feel like these reflections have helped me decide where to begin inshallah.

I havent started yet, so ill post the reflection soon inshallah, i just wanted to say that the retreat was incredible, mashallah. I have never in my life experienced 10 days as intense and as affecting as those 10 days with Sheikh M. Things happened, emotions arose that i never thought were deep inside of me. Determination came along with the remorse inside my qalb. The reassurance taht Sheikh M informed us about, reassured me taht ALlah(swt) was all forgiving and most loving. And that he (swt) longs to help his ibaad become closer to him (swt).

MAy Allah instill that assurance and that luv for him inside all of our qulub inshallah.

please keep me in ur duas, ur are definetly in mine.

Your sister in this Beautiful deen of ALLah(swt)
nusaiba

WAsalamu ALaikum wa RAhamatu ALlahi wa Baraktuh


halwa
07/25/01 at 03:09:25
Assalamu ALaikum Wa Rahmatu ALLAhi wa BAraktuh

The problem that was brought up about doing things for only the sake of ALLAh. I think its something that always stays with a person once u hear about how it is an act of unltimate shirk. For me..when i studied the severity of the problem..i became aware. SO i think the best thing is to always stay aware. MAke sure that before u pray 2 rakka sunnah in the mesjid, that ur not doing it for the person sitting next to u or behind u. Make sure that when ur going out to class, u are not covering urself for someone else to see..but u are covering urself for the sake of ALLAh. Make sure that before u decide to do an act of good, such as visiting a fellow muslim or muslimah, that u are not doing it so that people say that u are an ideal friend.
All of these things will help you become more in control over ur nafs and the niyya (intention..dont make me break out into the MYNA Rap for u now..heh Smiley) behind each of ur actions. I am ofcourse not speaking as someone who has overcome this mujahada, because i havent. BUt inshallah, ALLah (swt) will help all of us become closer to him and increase our mahaba (love) for him and will help us be careful about the intention behind each of our deeds. Ameeeen.

WAsalamu ALaikum Wa Rahmatu Allahi wa Baraktu
nusaiba

ps- i think it would be great if we could generate a discussion amongst the retreat people and anyone else about our experiences during and after the retreat, so that we can keep the spirit inside our qulub (hearts) alive always.
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« Reply #7 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:12 AM »

deenb-4dunya
07/25/01 at 08:35:35
I agree with what sister Seeba is saying. We gotta keep the spirit up. I think it'll do something to our quloub to keep communicating with our retreat hommies:)

For anonoymous, maybe what u should do is not go out in public places in your community where you know you'll be acting with riyaa, you've reached a stage of ikhlaas where you do everything for Allah, notr caring whether people see you or not.

Personally, my retreat experience was beyond words. Subhanallah... just being around Br.Mokhatr and seeing the how far, far, far ahead he is than all of us was enough. Add the rest of the God fearing people, who's faces shine with nur, and the gorgeous environment, the mujahaddah trip, little food, nearly no sleep, constant silence, motivational lectures, and stories of the righteous women who are unbelievable (i still can't believe half the stories he told us), beautiful adhthaans...all of this makes one of the most beautiful yet painful expriences of my life.

subhanallah.

After the retreat I tried to implement almost everything we had learnt/ gotten from the retreat ( ok not everything, but alot of stuff). It lasted for 6 days. I guess I did too much. I dont like gradualism very much- i wish everything would just happen.  Sad anyways..after my first big fall..I kept having little stumbles after weak mujahaddahs. I don't think I had ever conscioously, whole-heartedly entered the process of tazkiyah. I dont think I have until now. It's much harder than I though it would be...but I guess I just gotta remember that the process of tawbah is all about work, work, falling, getting up, dua, work work, stumbling, getting up, dua, work......

PLease make dua for me.
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:17 AM »

taffi
01/15/02 at 12:22:38

going to retreats makes me feel really grateful.. i know i have had some amazing examples.. really beautiful ppl to look up to... inshALlah may Allah(swt) reward all our teachers for every little thing that they try to teach us and may he give us the toufiq to internalize the things we're blessed to learn.

the one lecture at the retreat that really had soo many things from college and highschool running through my head was the one on objectives of shariah. so i figured this would be a good place to get some of my thoughts out.

br. M talked about how even lawmakers are subject to shariah's system of law.. so it offers this stability and yet its adaptable. even when it changes its always consistent about preserving the wellbeing of the human being.( the five fundamentals that shariah came to protect: "faith", life, reason, progeny/honor, and property-- our scholors said that any civilized societies laws will seek to preserve these fundamentals)
in highschool, i remember discussing why they had to end prohibitiion... but in the end it always seems like defeated logic because whats the point of law if you have to change the law just because you know everyone will break it.
and i never really got that law about suspending civil liberties in a time of war.. never made sense: thats basically saying your rights only matter when you dont need them.
and now were  seeing this actuallized.
so it seems while secular law  has all this rhetoric about ideals and values and rights- they really dont maintain those ideals... in fact they have convenient loop holes withing their frame work to actually work against those ideals.
whats really absurd is how the concept of heritage and identity is all over western literature yet that concept is not preserved and maintained in the law. in fact its the opposite-- they allow something as dehumanizing as artificial insemination in the name of women's RIGHTs.
its amazing how shariah sought to protect these things for everyone-- muslims and nonmuslims alike. those fundamentals are what make a person feel whole.. complete and respected as a human being. some ppl spend there whole lives ACHING for islam wihout even knowing it. b/c  ultimately you cant be whole without putting your faith in the ONE creator  of our ONE humanity. MAlcolm X said "In my thirty-nine years on this earth, the Holy city of Mecca had been the first time I had ever stood before the Creator of All and felt like a complete human being. "
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« Reply #9 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:19 AM »

nouha
06/17/02 at 16:47:07
salam

how is everyone doin? alhumdulilah i hope. well i just got back from the retreat, it was raining the whole weekend and it was cold a bit but thats fine, it was still enjoyable,

everyone is fine alhumdulilah, some people are getting sick due to the weather  and food but nothign too serious, i had to leave early though becuase i was sent to the hospital, im the one who got REALLY sick, but im now fine alhamdulilah.

i got to meet mohja Smiley, what a lovely lady  Grin . she thought the people from albany were all intellectual.... hahahha... the surprise on her face Wink

arsalam was there too but i didnt meet him.

ill post my reflections later inshallah and some notes on the tazkiyah retreat, its good to be back  Tongue

wasalam
nouha:)
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« Reply #10 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:20 AM »

betul
06/25/02 at 04:08:25

Assalamu Alaikum wa RahmatullaHi wa BarakatuHu, 
 
InshaAllah everyone is doing good, it's been a while since I've 'really' posted on the
board, I've been at the retreat and Alhamdulillah I am back now. 
 
Some of the Albanyians wanted me to start the thread about the retreat and the
experience I had, so here it goes inshaAllah. 
 
This year was my first year to attend the retreat wAlhamdulillah, and those who are
thinking about attending next year, take it from me, it is worth it and you will be
very grateful to Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala that you are able to go, InshaAllah. 
 
The first couple days really helped me focus, because we had 3 hr classes and a
strict schedule to follow, so Alhamdulillah not much time to waste.  I will try to
summarize my notes and inshaAllah post them up, of course other sisters and
brothers have much better notes, so I'll ask them to post first, inshaAllah. 
 
The classes were further away from the main lodge (where we ate, prayed, etc),
down by the lake, and SubhanAllah it is a sight that I will never forget.  There are
trees and mountains that sorround the entire lake, and at the edge of the lake, there
were rocks going all around. 
One look at the lake and you're breathless, SubhanAllah it is that beautiful.  You sit
on the rocks and look at nothing but the wonderful creations of Allahu SubhanaHu
Wata'ala, the waves carressing the rocks as they hit up against them, the sun
shining with it's full brightness on the lake and reflecting perfectly, the wind blowing
through the leaves, and the singing of the birds as they fly above my head,
SubhanAllah.  I felt as if everything I heard was making dhikr of Allahu SubhanaHu
Wata'ala, and as I sat there listening more, my heart joined them in harmony and
our dhikr became one, SubhanAllah.  My heart let go of all the worries of dunya and
found comfort with Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala, Alhamdulillah. 
 
Throughout the day, we had 'free time' for ourselves, to review over the notes, get
some rest, or go down by the lake and reflect.  After five days came the time for
outdoors day.  First day, our group went to Fawn Lake (this is a new place from last
year), and SubhanAllah the water was sooo serene and calm.  It was as if the
mountains and trees were protecting it from anything that would disturb it's peace.
 It looked like the heart that Br. Mokhtar talked about, that when a Muslim gets to a
point where their heart is so calm, nothing disturbs it's serenity, and I could see that
in the lake, the wind made waves that seemed like it disturbed the lake but the
tranquility still remained, SubhanAllah. 
 
As we were hiking up to the lake, we noticed so many trees in prostration to Allahu
SubhanaHu Wata'ala.  Some of them bent from the middle, and some of the bent
from the roots and almost cracked.  SubhanAllah they have so much humbleness, and
fear of Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala that it made me think.  Humans are supposed to
be the best of creatures and we were created only to worship Allahu SubhanaHu
Wata'ala.  The trees are in dhikr of Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala 24/7/365, yet we,
human beings, are in dhikr of Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala only when we remember
Him.  SubhanAllah, what an irony. 
 
On the second day, we went to Jockey Bush Lake.  The hike was somewhat more
difficult because of the steepness, but Alhamdulillah it was worth it.  All the lakes I
came across were always peaceful and showing the beauty that Allahu SubhanaHu
Wata'ala has given them.  I was able to get in touch with my heart and actually feel
it saying "La ilaha illa Allah".  Alhamdulillah those feelings I wkn't forget and
InshaAllah would like to experience over and over again. 
 
Third day, we went canoeing.  We paddled for about 2 1/2 hrs and SubhanAllah it
was so hard.  Many people reflected on canoeing as our life journey in the path to
Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala.  The water/our life can get hard, the waves/struggles of
life can be difficult to handle, but we must never stop paddling/striving because if we
do, we'll lose control of the canoe/life, and stray off the course/right path.  We
paddle/strive as hard as we can, and through all of that, we will reach our final
destination, the shore/Jannah.  SubhanAllah, it really showed me that even though
we are faced with challenges in life, we must never give up and always have reliance
on Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala with everything in life, and InshaAllah we will reach
our final abode, Jannah. 
 
The last two days of the retreat were very special but I do not have much time to
right them now.  InshaAllah I will comment more on the retreat another time.
 Please forgive me, this post has been long.  Jazakum Allahu khayran to everyone.
 
Wassalamu Alaikum,

Betul
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« Reply #11 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:23 AM »

Aabidah
05/07/02 at 23:52:43
salam

Reflect on this from last year's retreat, InshaAllah.  (from se7en's collection  Smiley)

Khalid al-Warraq's servant - whose name we don't know
- was constantly in worship of Allah. Once Khalid
advised her about Allah's mercy and compassion, and
she wept.  She said,

Ya Khalid, I know.  I hold hopes in Allah so big that
if the mountains carried them, they would be burdened
by their weight.  And I know that in the generosity of
Allah there is safety for every sinner.  But where
will I be when it comes to the grief of the race?

Khalid asked her, what is the grief of the race?

She said, when there is resurrection on the day of
Hashr - when all that is inside the graves will be
spread, and the abraar [the righteous servants] will
mount the most beautiful of their works and race to
the siraat.  By the dignity I hold in my heart for
you, I swear that [...] the negligent will never be
able to move ahead in this race.

What will happen to me, then?  What pain and sorrow
and grief will I feel, when the banner is lifted for
those who have mounted their beautiful deeds, and the
banner is lifted for the muhsinoon [those who dogood]; and the banner is lifted for those who yearn
for Allah, and the banner is lifted for those who love
Allah - but I have to stay back with the sinners?

And she wept.

Ya Khalid, beware of anything that will interrupt a
fast race to righteous action - for between the two
homes [of dunyaa and akhira] there is no home to make
up for what one has missed. 

Woe on the person who is negligent in the servitude of
his master, while carrying hope in him.  Shouldn't his
hopes wake him up while the lazy ones are asleep?
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:29 AM »

Anonymous
07/01/03 at 12:00:50

as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

a reflection from one of the retreat participants this
year.. please make duaa for the author..
----------------

The stillness of the time before daybreak stands in
sharp distinction to the turbulence inside me.  I
study the world before me, and though the lenses of my
eyes and the synapses of my brain understand and
recognize its beauty, I feel cut off from it.  My
tongue forms words like "SubhanAllah" and
"Alhamdulillah" - and yet my Qalb feels disconnected.
My dhikr is in need of dhikr. 

I wonder... how much of my life have I have tossed
away.. finding a quick fix in a conscious ignorance,
an easy escape, or shallow promises to my self, and
neglecting the deepest part of me, thirsty for true
happiness, in connection with the Source of happiness.

I am under mental and spiritual occupation, and like a
prisoner, I long for freedom from my oppression.  Some
words from a far away song flutter by, as I try to
sort out my mind and heart:

this is why they call me a sullen girl / they don't
know I used to sail a deep and tranquil sea /  but I'm
washed ashore and I've lost my pearl / and now there's
only an empty shell of me.

Somehow, I've lost my way yet again, in the murkiness
of dunyaa, in the ocean of shahawaat, that keeps me
under the waves, immersed in ghaflah.  Somehow, I've
lost my Qalb, sick and hidden in veils of ignorance,
heedlessness and dhunoob, and I cannot describe the
yearning inside me to bring it life.

SubhanAllah, how amazing the vessel of the Qalb - that
it can house so much, and still feel such emptiness,
void and pain.  This because it longs and yearns for
Allah, and without Him it suffers and rejects all
imitations.

How have I allowed such inner damage to occur?  My
devotion misdirected, my emotions scattered, my
happiness mislaid.  I have wronged myself more than
anyone else - sold my soul for a cheap price and my
servitude to a lowly master.

I need to don the cloak of Ibraheem, alayhis salaam,
and destroy these things inside my inner ka'bah.  I
need to clean out this Qalb, remove the carefully
positioned images that have taken the place of my Lord
the Most High, scrape clean the film of dhunoob that
leave it murky and heavy.  I need to resuscitate my
inner being, bring life back to my Qalb with dhikr and
remembrance of my purpose.

Constellations beckon me to join them - come, be a
neighbor to the stars, join us in our Remembrance of
our Creator.  The birds call to me in the stillness of
early daybreak - come, release your wings, join us in
our flight ascending towards the heavens.  The grains
of sand call me, come, humble yourself and Allah will
exalt you, as the chosen of us are exalted, glinting
in wondrous beauty encased in glass. 

The universe calls me - be in ubudiyyah to Allah.
Join us in our happiness, in remembrance of Allah and
our shared purpose.  Maybe Allah will raise us
together, the stars fashioned like jewels in the
heavens, the birds swooping with the winds, the earth
rich and fertile - and you, a human being, lost for a
short while in the desert of dunyaa, but guided back
to the Straight Path, like a lost camel brought back
by a merciful guide.

The universe calls me - and I yearn to answer this
sweet adhaan, calling me to success and happiness.  I
long to find my place among Allah's creation, to
reconnect my Qalb with my Creator, and to taste the
sweetness of knowing Him, and being true to Him.

I ask Allah to make this retreat an opening for me,
for this movement of longing and desire to break
through the heavy bonds my nafs has imposed on me, and
that my returning to Him is thorough and accepted.

I ask Allah for the sweetness of Jannah; and for
enough consciousness of Him and remembrance of Him to
keep me on the path towards it.

Ameen, thumma ameen.  wAlhamdulillahi Rabbil alameen.
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« Reply #13 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:35 AM »

Maliha
06/16/05 at 14:38:01
salam
I know I lament every year, and probably will continue to do, as long as i suffer yet another year of no retreat.

during my evening walks across a nearby lake, i alwayz smell the fresh pine trees, feel the humid summer breeze, hear the festivities of the bugs, ducks and geeze and imagine just for a split of a moment...that I am in the mountains, reminiscing the lessons emanating from the beautiful soul of our teacher...and for a moment i am taken someplace else...

just for too brief a moment, before i wake up with an aching heart and realize not "this time"...not for a while.

i miss the retreat with a homesick feeling, that bittersweet ache that suffers from separation and yet is gladdened to have experienced something so rare, so precious, in a world full of mundane trifles and junk chaos.

May Allah reward the organizers, retreaters, and may He increase the Sheikh with ever increasing Eman and eloquence to continue moving hearts, and providing moments for the lost, stray and misguided to realize there is only One goal worth striving for...and only one short life to submit, for eternal respite...

amin.

To all the retreaters, make the most of this blessing that Allah has afforded you..and don't take one fleeting moment for granted. May Allah continue to bless and guide you all.

sigh...

wsalam
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« Reply #14 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:37 AM »

Jannah

June 25, 2007, 04:40:37 PM »     

For seven years I have been coming to this rock. Sometimes in the dead of winter, when the trees are bare and there are feet of snow outside and it is freezing cold, I think of myself here. Sitting on this rock as I am now with the green dappling leaves from the trees giving me shade. The sun sparkling on the water as far as the mountains. The mountains shades of pine, blues and grey. The clouds light and puffy, sometimes coming near, sometimes going far.

I am happy here. Why is it that only in this place, on this rock I am content with my life. Yet all through the year all I feel are anxieties and heartache. I am indeed a sinner, but thankful that this tiny slice, this tiny glimpse of peace is shown to me once a year.

There are seven years of memories here. I still remember the first time we came to this retreat site. It was un-chartered, unexplored. We walked down towards the Lakehouse and caught our breath as we saw water rising in front of it and thought it was the most magical place.

My memories are bittersweet. Some are happy memories of laughing on the canoes and making dhikr in tune to our rowing. Our ‘year of mujahadah’, which looking back on now is quite amusing. All the wonderful classes and revelations and the most beautiful group of Muslims gathered from such various far away places. Then there are the painful memories of understanding the import of our sins and feeling the anguish of our tawbah. I miss my old friends too, the fellow brothers and sisters who had started this journey with me seven years ago. Some have lagged behind the caravan and some have gone far ahead of us.

*****

This yearly spiritual retreat in the Adirondack Mountains is organized by the Shaikh and his students and held at a Christian camp/retreat site. As the legend goes, the Shaikh decided to go to a ‘Save the Adirondacks’ meeting in Albany one day and there he met Kent. Kent looks like a typical outdoorsy, surfer guy… blonde, blue eyes and long hair. They began to talk and the Shaikh found out that Kent runs a Christian camping center and since he had been looking for just such a thing they became fast friends!

The first year we came to this retreat site, we were about twenty people and we only stayed in the lodge with two or less! people per room. We had class for about two hours in the afternoon and all the rest of the time was ours to do whatever we wanted. The sisters would get together and go swimming in the evenings. Our kitchen lady ‘Margaret,’ would make us special meals and desserts. We were the first to explore the campsite and everything was a new discovery. We canoed in our lake on whichever days had good weather and held our classes on couches in the Lakehouse with the windows open so we could hear the waves against the rocks. Kent invited us to a barbeque with his camp counselors where they sang some songs for us. We used to clean the tables and kitchen after every meal until the “Ottawan brother’s clean-up crew” volunteered to take over for us. A sister, just out of camp kindness, would take our clothes, wash them for us, fold them and put everyone’s clean clothes in their room. Ahhh… those were the good old days!

Nowadays we spend months beforehand in preparation for the retreat. Updating the website, setting up registration, vetting applications, collecting deposits and answering questions. As the retreat dates comes closer there’s more and more work. Every retreat staff’s complaint is that they spend the majority of their time organizing and very little being a participant. On top of that is the constant feeling that something is wrong with us because we don’t feel the same things or reach the same spiritual levels as the others.

After seven years of organizing, things are somewhat easier, but the retreat is still a huge undertaking.

Alhamdulillah, this year we had over seventy registrants from all over the US and Canada. Ma’shaAllah they were all very dedicated, good people. There are the usual college MSA kids, some aunties, some young couples, a doctor and his wife who come every year, Canadians who love to cross the border, locals who came up for the weekend and so on.

Every retreat year has its own flavor with different people, events, and tone. This year’s retreat was 10 days, which started with 7 straight days of classes: 3 hours in the afternoon, an hour and a half after Asr, two hours after Maghrib and the majority stayed awake after Fajr until Shuruq. The tiny pieces of free time we had were spent for the staff: taking care of registration, money or other things, or for the participants: writing summaries and revising notes. The last three days were spent in outdoor events such as canoeing and hiking.

*****

This year we went to two new places. One was a very long hike to three successive waterfalls called Hope Falls. This was about a 4 mile hike one way. It was long, but seeing the waterfalls made it worth it. We also saw a baby bear climb a tree not far from us!

The second place was canoeing down Kunjamuk River, a beautiful curvy canal/creek like expedition which was absolutely stunning. We passed four beaver dams as our challenges where we had to stop and get out of our canoes in order to get them over or in some places even carry our canoes around to the other side. This definitely left a newfound respect for beavers in us!

After we made it past all of them we stopped at a little area offshore in a forest to pray and eat lunch. The skies darkened and thunder crackled above us. The sheikh came over from the woods to tell us not to be scared and related a hadith that says that during a storm, the thunder is in dhikr and the angels are in fear of Allah swt. We sat and watched the rain on the river while the tall, stately pines of the forest protected us. The rain drops hit the water in the river and created bubbles on the surface called habb al-maa. This habb we learned in class is related to the Mahabbah (love) of Allah. If one’s love is sincere it will always rise to the surface like the bubbles on water and become apparent. One simply cannot hide their true love.

After our lunch and khalwa time, we headed back through the river in the light rain. My canoeing partner and I went first and it felt like we were the first explorers to come to this place. We soon canoed right onto a beautiful little lake surrounded by mountains. It had stopped raining and there was mist and fog all around us. Long grass, bamboo and water lilies surrounded the edges. The sun was setting in the distance in a show of yellows, reds and pinks. It was like a virtual scene out of some fantasy reality. We set our paddles up and just sat floating, staring at the absolute beauty around us. We heard the birds calling each other, and the frogs singing. We watched the water begin to turn pink from the sunset. We must have stayed there for half an hour or more. No one wanted to leave. It was truly one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had at the retreat and a highlight for this year.

The last day of the retreat this year, we went hiking to Augur Falls, which is an old favorite for everyone. It’s a rather large creek that starts out gently tumbling over rocks until it turns into raging rapids and at one point makes a sharp 90-degree turn. Some huge rocks overlook this turn and this is where we sat eating our lunches, contemplating and doing dhikr. After a while I decided to take off my socks and shoes and put my feet in the water.

The water from the waterfall was warm and felt so nice as it rushed past my feet. I just sat there for a long time with the water going over my feet, wondering where all this water came from, gallons and gallons every second all the way down, turning and continuing somewhere else. The water was crystal clear. It felt so refreshing and clean. I had this incredible urge to just jump into the middle of the Falls and sit there in the water, letting it rush over me and cleanse me completely of all my sins, all my memories, all my faults, all my envy, all my hate, all my mistakes. I could just sit there for hours until I was so completely clean and pure. How clean would I be then compared to just making wudu with the water. It came to me that that water rushing over a person continuously is like someone in continuous tawbah and a person who just uses the water to make wudu is like one who has made istighfar once. The difference is clearer to me now and I realize the need for being in tawbah all the time.

I am sad to be back home again, but am hopeful that the retreat memories from this year can inshaAllah carry me to the next.

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« Reply #15 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:38 AM »

Muslim

June 25, 2007, 11:40:18 PM »     
 bismillah

Well now that Jannah has given the view of a person who has been there multiple times, Let me give you the view of a dude where it's his first time, and from the brothers point of vew.

Let me start off by saying that the place is PERFECT for a retreat. Some parts are pure wilderness while other parts are very modernish. You might as well call the lodge a hotel, and when you wander outside, you are greeted by dirt roads and a jungle full of Mosquitoes.

The Administration and organizers of the retreat are extremely polite and welcoming. I met a lot of people over there including Sr. Jannah and a few people from the board. I was surprised at how much free time we got (having been given to understand that it was going to be intense) not that I'm complaining hehe...

Let me describe a local trail (one that is rarely frequented because of the multitudes of mosquitoes which I found out the hard way). Some parts are overgrown, but it was still a pretty clear trail. Blue squares of wood (or is it plastic) hammered against a tree, showed us the way. There are literally hundreds of thirsty mosquitoes swarming the dense jungle like trail. I went there with two brothers (this was their first time at the retreat too) who weren't in the best of spirits at the thought of going for a long trek. Well to put the  long story short, we ended up doing a detour after I took a wrong turn and arrived (much to my trek parners annoyance) back to the start of the trail! Of course at this point I burst out laughing in my usual sympathetic way and while one joined in the laughter the other refused to be mollified.

Now to describe the scenic place of beauty that the retreat is renowned for (Thanks Jannah for the Pic)... We have class in a big cabin (cleverly made to look like it was made out of logs) which has a little patio full of reclining wooden chairs and a swing bench. Right next to the cabin there's a huge vast expansive lake or maybe river, the ends of which cannot be seen. On the other  side of the river are mountainous breathtaking regions much resembling the mountains of Silicon Valley in California from where I originate. We typically have two breaks about 10 minutes where all the students sit on the rocks that separate the land from the lake. Some sit and think deep thoughts, while others have a dreamy look in their eyes and go into a contemplative trance-like state and yet others stand around and stretch and breathe the deep cool air while feeding the mosquitoes. Once a student even rushed outside to collar the comfortable swing bench before anyone else could get there.

The days (unfortunately) really passed by like they always tend to do when you are enjoying yourself. The meals were excellent and the food was ample. Sh. Mokhtar wanted to keep the meal simple but the kitchen staff were (fortunately?) not able to grasp the idea of simplicity and kept on making meals fit for kings.

Rooms were shared. Some rooms had as much as 5 people residing in them. The folks in my room were relatively quiet and at times there was pin drop silence. The basement of the lodge was converted temporarily into a makeshift Masjid with a room next to it full of sofas and chairs. I don't think anyone missed a prayer in the 'Masjid' during the whole of the retreat. Everyday for Fajr, students were given an opportunity to give the adhan for fajr. There was two adhans everyday. I'd have given the adhan but I was not confident enough in my ability to wake up on time.

I missed all the hiking trips and canoing trips as well as the bear sighting as I had to leave early before that. It would be unfair to say that I had a terrible time because of that...

Alhamdulillah 
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« Reply #16 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:39 AM »


June 26, 2007, 06:43:22 PM »     
Reflection 1—My Puzzle

As-salaam-alai-kum. Here is a synopsis of my first reflection and the poem is below. Please share all of your summaries and reflections as well. I loved all of them and would like to read them again. I wrote this poem in about two hours and I know it has grammatical errors, etc. so I apologize for that in advance. Whenever I looked at myself in the mirror, I never knew who was looking back at me. “Who am I?” was the question that always bothered me. After coming to this retreat, I realized a few things. In this world, there is good and evil. There are signs of good everywhere as well as signs of evil. It’s as if there are two puzzles: one of heaven and the other of hell. The final images are shown to us in the Quran. Now it is up to us to decide which image we want. By pieces of the puzzles, I mean to say that there are pieces of good and evil everywhere and you have to know what to take from this duniya and to simply put what you don’t need back i.e. take the good pieces of puzzle (the ones where you can see the signs and reflect) and leave the superficial pieces which are just there for distraction. During this retreat, I looked at everything around me from a different perspective, especially nature. “He Who created the seven heavens one above another: No want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of ((Allah)) Most Gracious. So turn thy vision again: seest thou any flaw? Again turn thy vision a second time: (thy) vision will come back to thee dull and discomfited, in a state worn out.”—Surah Mulk, ayahs 3 and 4. Allah (swt)’s creation is flawless and every time I looked around me, I was in awe. There was a time in my life when I used to open the Quran to the same verse. At first I thought it was a coincidence, and then I realized that Allah(swt) is telling me something so I read between the lines. “Know ye (all), that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude: How rain and the growth which it brings forth, delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; thou wilt see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a Penalty severe (for the devotees of wrong). And Forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the devotees of Allah.. And what is the life of this world, but goods and chattels of deception?”—Surah Al-Hadid, ayah 20. THE LIFE OF THIS WORLD IS A DECEIVING ENJOYMENT.  Just that part of the verse pretty much sums up everything. I was outside by the lake during our seven minute break and I tripped over the root of a tree. While looking around I found a piece of bark, twig, and a pine cone. I like to collect things that may not seem important to some, but to me, the little things hold deep meanings. So while looking at what I had, I related the contents to the lecture that day. Tazkiyah (purification) is needed first. Then you need afaal (acts/works), followed by akhlaaq (inner image), and finally tawheed (confirmation of the oneness of God). However, you need some tawheed to attain a higher level of tawheed. So in that sense, tawheed is not only the fruit, but it is also the seed. You initially need a seed first which then grows roots (tazkiyah), then a trunk/bark (afaal), twig (akhlaaq) and finally you get the fruit (tawheed). There are many levels of tawheed, and our goal should be to attain the highest level so in that sense I incorporated the idea that you need the seed (tawheed) to plant many trees which will give you more fruit (higher level of tawheed) and the process goes on. I used the pieces of my puzzle: the root, the bark, the twig, and the pine cone—which seem to be such ordinary things we find lying on the ground, to reflect on what I had learned and to look beyond the superficial. Knowledge and insight should change a person for the better. If I’m indifferent to what I have learned, then there is no bigger loser out there than myself. I ended the poem with, “Where will I go from here?” I honestly don’t know myself because I have so much to work on. Like everyone else, I’m in a constant struggle. The retreat experience was amazing and I was in a perfect environment. I felt like I was suddenly given eyesight after almost losing it and it would be foolish of me to prefer to want to go blind after vision has been given to me. My du’a is that all of us who were at this retreat, insha’Allah will become better Muslims and will find the right pieces of our own puzzles so we can meet again soon and if not in this duniya, then in Jannah insha’Allah. Jazakallah khair.
Farheen

My Puzzle

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Is who I see prepared for the call?
Who am I? I often wonder.
Is there really a Muslim behind the skin and under?
What is the purpose of this life of mine?
Is it just to sleep, work, and dine?
As a Muslim I was born
But when I die, will the Earth for me mourn?
Like a puzzle my life seems
Will I find the right pieces? And by what means?
Puzzles exist of two kinds
Which final image in the end will I find?
On the surface the pieces of one image are found
The pieces of the other image, however, are deeply bound.
I always feel like I’m not looking in the right place.
I worry about not making it to first base.
The Quran tells me which images each will reveal
Oh Allah! I implore You for Your guidance and to You I kneel.
You showed me the images of heaven and hell
The difference between the two puzzle pieces how will I be able to tell?
You ask me to look at the signs in Your creation and to reflect
Oh Allah, Your creation is flawless, it is beyond perfect.
But Allah, my faith is not like that of Your Rasool.
I don’t want to live for the duniya like a fool.
“The life of this world is a deceiving enjoyment,” is the verse I read several times
Then I decided to read between the lines.
This world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting, You say.
It is like the vegetation after the rain, PLEASING, but which eventually dries up and turns into hay.
You put me in this world as a test
Oh Allah! Guide me among Your servants who are the best.
I don’t want to be one of those who say, “I believe in You”
Only to be turned away because my heart wasn’t true.
By merely saying, “I am a Muslim,” I don’t want to give myself false hope.
I want nothing more but to hold on to Your rope.
Noorun-ala-Noor. Light upon light.
Oh Allah! Bless me with internal sight.
Heaven as the final image of my puzzle I want.
The image of hell never fails to haunt.
Spending time in the woods today,
I found a few good puzzle pieces I must say.
While walking, I tripped over the root of a tree.
Next to it, was a piece of bark, lying free.
In my pocket I put the bark
A few steps later, I found a twig, brown and dark
Next to the twig something on the ground shone,
I kneeled and discovered it was a beautiful pine cone.
Walking back I thought of the contents in my pocket.
And realized they were like the keys to a hidden locket.
The root, the bark, the twig, and the pine cone are each a treasure.
Within them, there are signs and meanings I cannot measure.
Metaphorically, tazkiyah is the root, afaal is the bark, akhlaaq is the twig, and tawheed is the fruit.
Without tazkiyah, the root
There will not be tawheed, the fruit.
To have a beautiful forest, many trees we will need.
To get a tree, from the fruit is required the seed.
Tawheed is not just the fruit, but it is also the seed.
It is the seed required for every righteous deed.
Oh Allah, the signs in Your creation to me You have given
I pray my puzzle’s image will be that of heaven.
Ibaadah and reflection made the purpose of my existence very clear.
The question, however, is: “Where will I go from here…?”




June 26, 2007, 06:45:23 PM »     
Reflection 2—The Power of Du’a

As-salaam-alai-kum. I must say I had numerous reflections throughout this retreat Alhumdullilah. I shared one earlier and thought perhaps I should share this one too. This reflection has to do with the whole retreat experience in general but also specifically the hiking experience. I forgot how difficult and long the hike was once I saw the falls. I noticed the water was constantly running, not even stopping for a second. I sat by the water for a while and then decided to drink some of it. The water was very pure. While I was drinking the water, I noticed something glistening in a tiny pot hole right below from where I was drinking. I put my hand in the pot hole and discovered that it was a shiny stone. There were many other stones in the pot hole and I began to take them out and observe them. I noticed that each stone was unique and that no two stones were alike. I recalled getting an email a while ago that contained pictures of Allah’s creation with “Allah” or “La ilaha illallah” on them and wished to see something like that too. Anything is possible for Allah (swt) and I had no doubt about that at all. People think I’m really weird for doing this but even before I came to this retreat, I prayed everyday to see a bear. Who would pray for something like that, huh? Well, to me, it was important to see a bear in its natural habitat and I really wanted to see one while I was at the retreat. The lady at this camp even told us that the bears are far in the woods and we won’t find them near the camp. I was hoping to see them when we went hiking but was told that we were going to hike elsewhere, not at the camping site. So I said, “Allah, if I don’t see Teddy, can You please make Teddy come see me?” My eyes searched for a bear everyday as I walked to the cabin and back. But the day he came, I wasn’t able to see him. Almost everyone saw him, except me and a few others. I realized that sometimes when you really want something and you don’t get it, it’s a test. So I remained patient and continued to pray to see him. Actually, I wanted to give him a hug too but I don’t think that’s a good idea. Sure enough, that same evening, Teddy came back! I think he may have even waved at me. My nafs told me to run out barefoot and to get a closer look at the bear, but my heart told me to relax, be thankful to Allah (swt) for showing me the bear, and to just watch from the window. It’s hard for me to tell you all this because I know by now I have totally embarrassed myself. I’m just being honest about my feelings. Anyways, back to what I was saying about the stones in the fall. So I really wanted to see something, anything, with Allah’s name on it. I prayed that Allah (swt) show me a sign with His name on it just as He showed me the bear. Lo and behold, the next stone I picked up said, “Allah” on it in Arabic. Subhanallah! The power of du’a is beyond amazing! I thanked Allah for giving me the stone and realized that when I LOOK at the stone, “Allah” is not visible, but when I SEE it, it is very clear. I observed a few other stones and they all seemed to have “Allah” on them in their own unique patterns although not as clear as this stone. I realized then that a stone with “Allah” on it is not necessarily the only sign, but that everything in Allah’s creation is a sign within itself. This whole time I was always too busy hearing and not listening, looking and not seeing. I know for a fact that if I had seen the stone any other time, it would just be a stone with some weird designs. But that same stone at the bottom of a pot hole, deep within the woods, under the running water, made me realize that I was looking through a foggy lens all along and never bothered to clean it. I thought I was seeing but there was so much I was missing out on. And when I began cleaning my lens with the help of Allah (swt), Allah’s name on the stone was no longer a weird design. Instead, it was a clear sign. My point is to stop looking and start seeing and to never, NEVER underestimate the power of du’a. Be sincere and be content and Allah (swt) will continue to overwhelm you with blessings. Sometimes our du’a may not come true, but just be patient and know that Allah (swt) knows you better than you know yourself and He always wants what is best for you, though at the time you may not think there is something better for you. Sheikh Mokhtar had read this reflection on the last night of our retreat and many of you had seen the stone. I had asked to get it back and while I was waiting to get it back, I realized that the purpose of the stone was fulfilled. I didn’t need to have it to know that it has “Allah” on it because everything has Allah on it, not just this stone. After Isha, Sheikh Mokhtar was holding the stone and showing it to others and he told me that I am very blessed to be able to see “Allah” and realize that Allah is in everything. I gave the stone to him and insha’Allah it is better off with him than with me. My only request to you, the reader, is that you remember me in your du’a and pray that we all continue to be blessed with internal sight that will make us better Muslims insha’Allah. It was an honor to be in your company and insha’Allah I will make du’a for you all. Again, I would love to read your summaries and reflections. Please share them. Keep in touch and may Allah (swt) continue to guide you on the right path. Jazakallah khair.

Farheen
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« Reply #17 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:46 AM »

Lake Qalbun Saleem:

(Reflections from Jockeybush)

His love and Rajaa' greeted me at Lake Al-Ma'

And gave me the vigor to take the path

Rivulets and streams flowing gently down

At some points still and stable

Gushing and flowing yet at others

A striking sign of the unstable heart

The Qalb perturbed is sometimes gathered

Then forced down by Hawa' with pulling vibe

The gravity of self dragging to descent

But the streaming waters leave a thirst in my heart

That could only be fed at the source of this art

A beautiful lake, still, quiet, and  serene

Inspiring feelings of the Qalb that is Saleem

The sight of which must succeed a long and trying hike

That is the taste of walking the path

Across rocks, mud, and obstructing branches

Aye, may I bring myself back to the Qalb pristine

Purity and clarity, truly polished Radiance

As I start my journey back from Lake Qalbun Saleem

I turn uninhibited for a parting reflection

What a sight to behold, blinding, piercing light

As the sun glorifies Allah, blazing the lake with its Rays

My glance is blinded by the powerful light

Reflected only by such a heart that's at peace

So intense is the light of Allah in the Qalbun Saleem

That I look at the lake but see water no more

All that beholds is Noorun alaa Noor !!!

Allahuma Ya Nooru Ya Allah

Nawwir Quloobanaa bi Noorin alaa Noor

Oh Allah, The Light, The Source of all light

Sparkle our hearts with Your Light upon Light.
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« Reply #18 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:47 AM »

after you all left


Alaykum salam wr wb

Jazakillah for your patience enough to read that. We need to hear some more reflections from everyone else. You all never fail to put a mirror before me with your words.

There was no better conclusion to the retreat than my company with Sh Mukhtar and AbdoulRahmane. It was the sweetest icing on the cake for me. (I kinda felt like the luckiest camper : )

We oversaw the departure of the last group made of a caravan of three cars heading back to Ottawa behind Br Karl. As we returned into the lodge, a sudden reality dawned. The place was quiet, dim, and empty of the vive that permeated it for many days.

It was quiet. It was quiet. It was sad. It struck me as a metaphor for life. How before we came to this earth, it existed without a care for humans. What made it live was not the bit our self-righteous and aggrandized selves. It would and continues to be inspite of our presence or our absence, inspite of our spiritual equillibrium or our rebellion. It doesn't care!!!!

We inspected the lodge, picking up any trashworthy item from the floor, and I recall            Sh Mukhtar saying that we should leave the place cleaner than we met it. The sofas and couches were empty. Nobody sitting on them making dhikr, or even sharing some thoughts with a fellow brother or sister. You could feel the sadness that those couches, the benches, and the walls were feeling. I could feel the powerful silence. I could sense how the now uncovered wooden cross was feeling very uncomfortable and out of place. Those two pieces of wood must have been cursing whoever it was that made a cross out of them. We prayed Asr and departed. I left with me an immediate longing to return. For me this had only been a glimpse, only an opportunity for the novice to observe. I must return. InshaAllah better prepared to learn, better prepared to see with the eyes of my soul, better prepared to taste with the tasting of the Ruh, and inshaAllah, in the most humble of states.

The two hours of driving back to Troy was solemn. Not a word exchanged between the three companions. Each busy reflecting and making silent adhkaar. Our entire journey back, punctuated with the sight and soft sounds of intermitent showers of Rahma from the heavens, was cool and equally cooling. We made a pause by some stream to recline our seats and sleep briefly in the car. Whether I got any sleep or not I don't recall. But no doubt was I refreshed. And certainly more after going to the stream, reflecting and renewing our wudhu'.

After some more driving we were back at Troy. I spent the first night at the Masjid. The second day we had a group of Christians visit the community to share with us their experience during visits to Palestine. May Allah bless them with His divine guidance for their sincerity and efforts in helping the cause of the oppressed. Ameen.

Earlier Sh Mukhtar took me to a Muslim pizza place and we ate pizza like no man's business. He urged me to eat as much as I want. You could imagine how confused that kinda made me, especially after justing returning from the retreat. But there was an interesting lesson in that. He told me how it is part of our adab that even if one is zahid or frugal, he should relax infront of his guest in order to make the guest feel very comfortable. He told me a story of when Imam Al-Shafii vistited Imam Malik. And Imam Malik's daughter kept a watch over Imam Al-Shafii to observe his well known zuhd. But to her astonishment, Imam Al-Shafii ate freely without a care. And then he went in to recline, and in the morning, when he came out for Salat alFajr, he didn't even make wudhu' before he prayed! Of course, she told her father about it. When Imam Malik asked Al-Shafii about it, he replied thus: as for the eating, I have heard that the food of the righteous is a Shifa'a (healing), and after that when I went to sleep, I stayed up all night solving a hundred fiqhi questions in my head until the Fajr, and since I had kept my ablution, I didn't need to renew it before the Salat.

That evening we hosted a group of Chiristians who had made visits to Palestine. They shared with us their experiences, and their criticisms of their govt for being so unjust and biased in the whole conflict. It was instructing to listen to these women. You could feel the sincereity and goodness in their hearts. I pray that Allah guides them to His light. Ameen.

My next and last night, I spent with Sh Mukhtar at his home : ) I told him outright to pardon me, but that I don't get an opportunity like this very often, so he obliged to sit with me for a long while. We stayed up till around 2am discussing. I reeled off every question I could fit into my brief opportunity of having him all to myself : ) Still, there are some left. We discussed a lot on Philosophy, tasawwuf, some fiqhi issues, and of course one personal question or two. It was one of the most beneficial nights I've had in a long long time.

In the morning, he dropped me at the airport. My ride to the port was mostly quiet, as I was feeling a strong sense of loss already. We hugged and said salams. I turned around, sad but happy that I was energised, and saying to myself 'next time I must drive, so that I can reflect along the path.'

It was a peaceful experience my flight back. The luminescent clouds and their intense whiteness took on much deeper meaning to me than they ever had.

And now I'm in Atlanta with all the smog in the air, and sounds of traffic in the hot Georgia sun. Fawn lake, Fawn lake, where for art thou, Fawn lake?

salamz
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« Reply #19 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:50 AM »

Anonymous

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Here are a few thoughts from a retreater who does not
want to reveal their identity. May Allah preserve
them and reward them abundantly:

----------------------------------

The retreat has been a unique experience for me too.
Wal hamdu lillah. Brother Mokhtar is such an amazing
person may Allah swt amply reward him with khair.
I’ve never had a teacher like that. Just watching his
face, as he got excited when relating the stories of
the saalihaat and saaliheen or when emotion would
overcome him because something touched him deeply, in
itself was worth going to the retreat for. Talk about
noor and a qalb that is saleem! It’s kind of sad too
realizing what a teacher can be and yet having no
access to such a treasure. The Albany folks sure are
lucky mash’Allah.

The whole of the retreat was just awe-inspiring, but
if I could pick one thing that has affected me the
most, it’s probably going to be the walking together
and helping one another on the path that was
especially underlined during our three day outdoor
adventure Smiley

The second day was particularly difficult, for me at
least. We went canoeing and we had reached an island
from which we were supposed to take an unmarked trail
in order to meet one of the other groups at fawn lake.
The place was filled with fallen trees and leaves
which often gave the illusion of solid ground when in
fact it was not stable and caused people to trip (does
Dunya ring a bell?). To make things worse the whole
area was made up of hills, pretty steep ones at that.
We kept climbing up and down, going round and round in
circles, at one point I started making du’a as I was
tired and about to collapse. I cannot begin to tell
you how I felt when we finally came back to the spot
where we left our canoes. I gave two rak’aats of shukr
(yup it was that hard) Subhan’Allah! It reminds me of
our own personal struggles. Sometimes it seems that
we’re not making any progress and we keep falling on
our faces and back to square one again and again. It’s
very hard at times like that to keep going and
persevere, especially when you start doubting yourself
and your ability to change for the better. Yet we
should know that no matter how lost we are, if we keep
trying and ask for Allah’s help, for every success is
due to His immense Rahmah on us, then insh’Allah
eventually we’ll get out of our own spiritual maze.

Through all of the difficulties we encountered on
those three days, there was always someone holding
your back; Running to your rescue when you slip or
showing you the right way from the wrong one even
before you came to it. Just the feeling that one is
not alone gives you the energy to march forward
subhan’Allah!

It was awe-inspiring to see br. Mokhtar “walk the
path” with us. When we went to jockey bush the first
day. He would go in front of us, cross the little
streams and then turn back to help us cross one by
one. He paid special attention to sr Barbara and sr
Haifaa. I was shocked to see him lift heavy rocks and
dead trees in order to make a little bridge so as to
prevent us from getting wet and muddy yet he didn’t
mind getting his own clothes soiled in the process.
What a beautiful example of mercy and kindness! And
his behavior towards our hosts brought tears to my
eyes! Subhan’Allah when one has true iman everything
they do radiates sweetness and beauty. I think if i
was a brother i'd be in jail now for stalking sh.
mokhtar Smiley

The last session was surreal! A sister, may Allah
bless her soul, made a reflection that hit right home.
I don’t know if you noticed this but at fawn lake
there’s this piece of wood, a log, which lies on the
tip of the water, not quite on the shore though; it
looks kinda stuck in between. The waves come and they
give it a little push towards the shore and it seems
to be moving in the right direction and then it starts
to swing back. She likened that log to her heart and
the waves to the caravan of the righteous. Each time
one comes and gently tries to push her along the right
path and her heart makes a small step forward, only to
roll back (maybe not as far as before). I remember
listening to her and thinking that’s exactly how I
feel!!

May Allah soften our hearts,give us the strength to
stay the course, and increase our ikhlaas and
attachment to Him. Ameen.
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« Reply #20 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:54 AM »

Assalaamualeikum warahamatullah..
 
I pray to Allah that this reaches all of you in the best state of eeman and happiness.
 
SubhanAllah, even though I attended 12 days of the retreat, those days passed so quickly. Today, when I was coming to work, I imagined myself driving to the retreat on the first day.
 
I just wanted to share some reflections that br mukhtar shared with us on our hiking trip to Augra Falls. SubhanAllah this was a beautiful place. The waterfall gave the example of our Nafs, how it gushes forth in strong currents. The water first starts as calm, and then it becomes turbulent. How did it become turbulent when it was calm before. How did our Nafs become turbulent and agitated when it was calm before?
 
and then the little green Islands in the midst of the waterfall were the different oppurtunities we get in life of pleasing Allah(subhanawata'aalah). We can either miss them or take benefit.
 
SubhanaAllah, we saw many trees uprooted, many large trees, and along them many smaller trees that were uprooted. The smaller trees fell because the large one fell. This means that if our leaders and those we take as guides in life don't have enough anchorage, they will fall and their followers will fall with them, thus leading a whole nation or community to failure.
 
Indeed this universe was created for us to know our creator. Allah tells us that He will show us signs in the horizons and in our own selves, that will clearly that Allah is the lord of the universe.
 
I found it so hard after coming from the retreat to keep with the dhikr and tasbeeh. after jummah, we met br mukhtar and he gave us advice to keep on holding to what we learned in the retreat.
 
may Allah give us strength to remember Him at all times, and may He give us the strength to strive in his way to attain true happiness, the happiness of the righteouss.
 
wassalaamualiekum warahamtullah
Imran


Assalamualeikum warahamtullah.
 
I remember the last sunset of the retreat that couple of us brothers saw at the retreat. Wallahi, it was amazing.
 
I observed the sun of our life is fading. The oppurtunities are passing by while we watch them go by and don't take advantage.
 
As the sun went down and down, I saw the oppurtunity of life to nurture a qalb that is saleem fading. Truly, the sun of our physical life will fade, but may Allah never let the sun of our quloob set, for if it sets, then we have truly died, after which only Allah can give life on whom He chooses to have His gates of rahma open.
 
May Allah(subhanwata'alah) bring us on the day of judgment with a qalb that is as bright as a day light sun, and may the sun of our quloon never set, ameen.
 
wassalaam
Imran

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« Reply #21 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:55 AM »

Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah,

SubhanAllah, jazakum Allahu khairan for your advices and suggestions...please continue to make du'aa for me and for all of your fellow retreaters :-)  Allah knows you are all in my du'aa...

This is just something small that I wrote this morning...if anyone wants to comment or add on or post their own reflections, please do so, jazakum Allahu khairan...

 

Bismillah, walhamdulilah, wassalatu wassalamu 'ala rasulillah...

 

Monday, June 30, 2003                                                                       

 

 

The sound of the alarm clock is incessant in my ears as I look over to find 4:00 a.m. written in clear neon green numbers…(I still have time…maybe I wont go to the masjid as I had planned…I’ll pray at home…this discourse goes on within me for a few minutes)

 

 

---apparently sleep took over again---

 

4:30 a.m.   My alarm clock is ringing yet again..but subhanAllah, this time, there is something else much louder raging outside my window.  I sit still and listen:  within minutes, the storm was furiously blowing through my back yard….with the loud clapping of the thunder and the bright bolts of lightening filling up the almost lighted sky.  The rain, which was taking its time to arrive and allowing for the thunder and lightening to debut, finally came, in strong and stiff sheets, crashing to the ground.  La Hawla wala Quwwata illa billah…

 

Part of me wanted to go outside and stand in the middle of all of this with my eyes closed.  There is a certain excitement that accompanies a storm which renders the person in awe…the more furious the storm seems, the more breath-taking the feeling.  I sat up and said in a voice that I almost was sure no one had heard, “ooh, I think I want to go outside….”  As soon as I said that, my father spoke to me from outside my door as he was walking by, “Soumaya, Rasulullah (sallalahu ‘alaihi wassalam) used to fear such storms…because it reminded him of the magnitude of Allah’s wrath on the nations before that He punished for their disobedience”  SubhanAllah…and then I remembered this ayah:

 

In surat Ar-Ra’d, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says,  “wa yusabbihu ra’du bihamdihi wal malaikatu min kheefatih, wa ursilu sawa’iqah fa useebu biha man yasha’ wa hum yujadiloona fillahi wa huwa shadeedul mihaal--And Ar-Ra'd[] (thunder) glorifies and praises Him, and so do the angels because of His Awe, He sends the thunderbolts, and therewith He strikes whom He wills, yet they (disbelievers) dispute about Allâh. And He is Mighty in strength and Severe in punishment.”

 

SubhanAllah, how long can I sit here and contemplate on the effects this storm has on me, when a few minutes before, I was finding it too difficult to wake up for salah?  “He sends the thunderbolts, and therewith He strikes whom He wills”---how do I know I wont be struck at this moment by one of the lightening bolts for my lack of enthusiasm in rushing to Him?  As soon as I had thought that, subhanAllah…an intense flash of light filled the sky, illuminating my room and filling my chest with feelings of fear and awe…Ilahi…I ask for Your forgiveness…who am I to delay my ‘uboodiyyah to You?  I do not know how long I have left on this earth…and as soon as I made my wudhu and prepared to stand in salah, I remembered sayyidina Musa (‘alaihissalam) when he said to Allah, “wa ‘ajiltu ilayka rabbi litardha—and I hastened to You, my Lord, so You are pleased”…

 

I pray to Allah that we don’t fall into long periods of ghaflah, but instead keep our tongues constantly wet with His dhikr.  I pray that we will try our hardest to hasten to Allah as sayyidina Musa had done.

 

 

Fi amanillah...and I love you all for the sake of Allah...

 

Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh

soumaya
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« Reply #22 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:56 AM »

reflections....

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,

Since the minute my feet stepped on the camp grounds, something inside of me changed.  My heart felt at peace, telling myself that for the time that I was to be there, I should take advantage of it and do whatever I can to collect as much arsenal as possible.

Now, subhanAllah, it's been almost a week since I've been home and the struggle is not as easier as it was before the retreat.  It's just like when we went canoeing.  The waves and the current don't become any less, they keep coming at you.  What moves your canoe forward is the strength with which you paddle and how much you strive to move ahead.  SubhanAllah, I feel it resembling my life so closely.  The urges and movements of our nufoos will always hit us head on, and we have to keep resisting and fighting it so we can move forward on our path to Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala.

The paddle to move through the waves of our nufoos are everything that was in our daily schedule during the retreat.  Taking enough time for salaah and the adhkaar afterwards, sitting in reflection and dhikr of Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala, reading the beautiful words of Allah from the Qur'an, and most importantly, trying to strengthen our ropes of connection with Allahu SubhanaHu Wata'ala.

It's been a great pleasure seeing old friends and making new ones.  Alhamdulillah, I will cherish the time we've all spent together.  I pray to Allah that we are able to take at least one thing back home with us and implement it in our lives.  May Allah make clear our path to Him and give us the strength, patience, endurance, Iman and Ihsan to keep moving forward on our path.  May Allah illuminate our hearts and always keep us guided on this path to Him, if that is what He Wills. Ameen.

Wassalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,

Betul
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« Reply #23 on: Mar 09, 2008 08:59 AM »

Assalamu alaikum everyone,

I really couldnt sleep last night...and I just had to share
this...please please please dont forget me or each other in your
du'aa...you never know when Allah will finally accept your du'aa...

Fi amanillah, wassalamu alaikum
soumaya


Bismillah, walhamdulilah, wassalatu wassalamu 'ala Rasulillah...


For some reason, I could not sleep….it was 2 in the morning…and I
was still tossing and turning in my bed. Khair inshaAllah, I
decided that I will say some adhkaar…"Amsayna wa amsal mulku lillah…
walhamdulilah…

Something compelled me to turn around and look behind me, out of my
window. La Ilaha Illa Allah….what a sight…let me see if I can
describe this to you…

Over the rooftop of my next door neighbor house was a dark blackish-
blue sky…that color which makes it so difficult to discern whether
its black or blue…and in the middle of the portion of the sky that
was within my view was one star…it was so large and brilliant and
bright in the sky that I thought it was a plane at first. After
literally five minutes of gazing at it, I was convinced that it was
indeed a star. SubhanAllah, when Allah, out of His rahmah, wants to
send you a sign of His glory and Majesty, He will find a way for you
to notice it. La Hawla wala Quwwata illa billah….it was beautiful…
its color was not absolutely white…but an off-white shade…resembling
a pearl…and it appeared to be as large as a pearl would seem to be
when found in the midst of a large pile of coal…due to the contrast
in color…

My first reaction? The tears immediately began to fall, slowly down
my face… when I could not understand why I was crying, I gazed at
the star for a bit longer…then an ayah from the Qur'an came to mind:

"Inna akramakum `indaAllahi atqaakum…--indeed, the most honorable of
you in the sight of Allah is the most Allah-fearing among you…"

SubhanAllah, the few other stars surrounding this beauty were almost
invisible to me…yet if you look closely, they begin to slowly peak
out at you…

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) is not going to look at the richest, or
the most knowledgeable, or the most prestigious amongst us…He will
look into our quloob for that Taqwah that lies within…but will it be
there?

I began to think about my life and how much emphasis is placed on
the so many other criteria used when dealing with people. Whether
it is for marriage, for choosing the right friends, or for deciding
who you will work with, the criteria cannot be cultural Islam, who
dresses better or who will land you a place among the `known' people
of the community…if I truly say I will love for the sake of Allah,
then I must use His criteria to help me choose who are the right
people to surround myself with. Allahumma ma razaqtani mimma uhhib,
faj'alhu li quwwatan fee ma tuhib, Allahumma ma zawayta `anni mimma
uhhib, faj'alhu li faraghan fee ma tuhib—Oh Allah, that which You
have granted me of what I love, then make it a strength in that
which You love, oh Allah, that which You have kept away from me from
what I love, then make it emptiness in that which You love, ameen.
Then, I realized, subhanAllah, after I had fallen in love with this
star, I must not lose sight of my TRUE love in this dunya, Allah, my
Lord and Master. Why? As soon as I began to focus on that star for
longer than a few seconds at a time, it seemed to be getting
smaller, and its brightness fading away. However, if I took my eyes
off of it, and studied the other stars and then the trees further
below, the size and brightness of that star returned to its constant
and luminous state. Similarly, if I love someone as if they were
the end instead of the means, then Allah will make that person small
and insignificant in my eyes after some time. However, if they are
a means to become closer to Allah, and I love them in moderation and
without losing sight of the larger and more beautiful goal, then
Allah will grant me barakah in that love.

I ask Allah to open for us the eyes of our quloob so that we may see
things in this dunya for what they really are, and to grant us His
hubb, first of all, and the Hubb of those who love Him and whom He
loves.


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« Reply #24 on: Mar 09, 2008 09:00 AM »

On Firasa...

Assalamu Alaykum,
please make duah for this lowly abd.
 
 
What do you see?
 
what do you see when you look into my eyes?
does life exist within these depths
or are you met with yet another veil?
 
what do you see...
 
a reflection of my qalb?
torrents
waves
madness
shrieks?
 
do you see the hot engulfing waves of my nafs,
a fire reflecting the jahannam i harbor inside?
 
or maybe a certain wildness of a monster
whose ferociousness depletes my mind?
 
do you hear the dying moans of my soul
a clouded vision
or do you simply see a void
an endless black hole?
 
what do you see tell me...
do you notice the overwhelming shadows 
of desires and illusions dancing
imperceptibly in the horizons of my heart.
 
before you depart
tell me did you catch the dying rhythms of my qalb
too beaten, worn out, exhausted
to attempt another rise?
 
don't ask me why
i shield my eyes and cry
for i realize it doesn't matter 
between me and Him
there is no mystery...
 
just His Majesty unreflected in this lowly, dying, struggling
        i.
 
-me.


Maliha



Return to Non existence.


Assalamu Alaykum,
Still begging for duahs:)
 
Return To Non Existence
I contemplate on everything I have done for the past quarter of a century Allah has blessed me enough to allow my lowly existence on His Majestic plane of Life. I try to sift through my memories, for those glimpses, those moments that I have spent in total immersion of Uboodiyya to Him. I try to remember those times that I made decisions simply because of Him and no one else. I try to reflect on those times that I thought I had achieved happiness, those moments that I was blissfully revelling in His blessings completely heedless of the Bestower of those Blessings.
I concentrate, I reflect, I think, I scramble through the vestiges of time, looking, frantically searching, trying to find a moment spent in total adoration of my Creator. One meaningful moment in a plane of nonexistent bliss... and I come back empty.
A whole life totally devoid of one single moment of true happiness.
The eyes of my Qalb, forever in the deepest slumber, have opened little slits during the retreat. Like the alarm that goes off in the early moments of dawn, when the sun just begins to streak it's rays in the deepest pitch of night, and we are cocooned deep in the comforts of our beds, under multiple blankets unawares. The alarm has gone off and the eyes of my Qalb are barely open, just barely feeling the density of it's own weight. I am back in the real world, amidst the deep recesses of dead beings, striving to keep these soulful eyes open.
Struggling to claw my way out of the dense layers of my Qalb.
Darkness upon darkness...
I have been drowning completely unawares of my impending doom.
I read the material, those frantic notes I kept taking, hoping to somehow imbdue them in the walls of my heart. Hoping that maybe an intellectual understanding of my desperate state will yield a deeper movement within the spaces of my Qalb. That maybe my wild, untamed nafs (the one I always took pride in being the "rebel"), would take a peek at those words and simmer down into acquiescence. Yet I realize it would take much more than empty knowledge, I realize it would take much more than the hollowness of striving and action, I realize that only the purest, most tangible sincerity would allow my Qalb to take flight in adoration of her Creator.
I realize that to taste the true breath of life, I have to die from everything, and arise amidst the beautiful sweetness of His worship alone.
How simple the beauty and clarity of this resolve yet how hard is it to implement?
While praying, dhikr, and recitation of the Glorious Quran have been made easy for me since my return, Walhamdullillah, other tangible hideous effects of my nafs keep rearing their ugly heads. I realize the reigns I had given my nafs, have been far too liberal. The anger that I have always felt so warranted to express, the gaze that keeps comparing my lowly self to others, the wistfulness I feel in being a "victim" to everyone but my own oppression, the unchannelled bursts of energy and emotions I get at the slightest provocation...Subhana Allah emptying myself of my own heavy weight baggages of my shahawat, and gusting torrents of my hawaa is proving to be so hard! Harder than "trying to sculpt a mountain with my bleeding jagged fingernails"...Subhana Allah.
I realize the fullness of my Qalb. The jagged edges of my torrential nafs. The idols, statues, images, the words that seek to justify anything and everything, the apparent "intellect" that does nothing but sway me like a helpless fluttering leaf in the midst of a storm...I realize the weightines of everything inside that needs the most exacting of purging. The spring cleaning that has never taken place, seasons came in and out, and now I have entrenched in my heart the stains of years of neglect, the dust turned sands of heedlessness, the madness within.
To achieve the true state of Tawheed seems like a far fetched dream, like the abstract longing that I feel when I gaze at the brightness of a glimmering star, or the heart stopping beauty of a dying sun. I wanna be a wanna be mureed, before I can even attempt to visualize a gift like Ilhaam within, or Firasa, or the beautiful steadiness of Mujahada that renders Allah's presence and Grace within.
My Qalb is sore and wounded, and it hurts to even be around people nowadays. Every little thing literally grates the sensitive walls of my being, and I bleed, and I weep, and I struggle.
I wish I could have stayed longer in the blissful coccoons of the retreat, the comforting blankets of amazing Quloob in dhikr, the heart rending times we spent in deep contemplation and reflection of our Creator. But it's Maktoob. It is within the Realm of His infinite blessings that I was even given the slightest chance to gain insight to what I have been missing out on all my life.
To this there is only one expression that encompasses all others.
Alhamdullillah.
To everything else I only pray for the burst of Irada to keep propelling us forward in this spiritual wilderness called life.
-me.

Maliha




When the night dies...


Assalamu Alaykum,
 

"When night approaches it makes an announcement which is heard by all creation except human beings and jinns as follows; Oh Sons of Adam! I am a new creation and will testify about all the deeds performed during my tenure. Utilize my existence to the best of your advantage, because after the sun rise you will never see me again. After that you would not be able to increase your righteous deeds and offer repentance for your sins and transgressions. After the night departs each coming day repeats the same announcement."
-Al Wasail
 
 
As we wake up into yet another dawn, yet another beginning, I can't help but wonder at the fleeting nature of time. How many of us slumbered throughout the darkness and gloom of our nights, thoughts of our impending doom completely kept at bay by frivolous dreams and lengthened hopes?
 
I woke up with the bitter taste of dead time sourly latching onto my tongue.
 
Another night of worship forgone.   
 
I woke up reflecting on the many caravans that have passed. Multitudes making their way throughout the horizons of time, processions following the paths of the Pious, the Blessed, the Truthful ones. Those whose backs barely touched the hardness of their beds, for the constant Awe that propelled them back into the comforting blankets of prayer, nourishing a restful calmness into their eyes, a lulling melody of serenity into the deepest recesses of their souls. Light upon Light, their souls traverse light years milling around His throne, yearning, reaching, basking in the glow of resplendent Praise and Grace.
 
I woke up removing all the dead layers of comfortable duvets weighing me down all night, urging my soul, perchance I can catch the drifting clouds of this Merciful Dawn. Perchance a sip of that healing sweetness, that has no earthly equivalence, can be poured down into the abscess writhing death in this lowly being. I woke up praying for another night, perchance this next one may be the vessel I would journey on...
 
Days merge into nights, as nights are withdrawn from the day, each manifesting its destiny in this perfected cycle of time. The sun waits for no one to make its Majestic appearance blazing forth the beginning of another day. No sooner does it reach its zenith, before it finally sets the  firey flames of regrets, loss, and repentance in the horizons of our souls. 
 
Another fleeting day has passed, another gentle admonition for our vain pursuits and wasted sacrifices. I stand at the beginning of this horizon clutching at my paltry provisions, appalled at how little I have managed to gather for the journey that has no end...
 
Another day has passed, Another stream of moments carelessly dissipated for a sip of death. 
 
Night will be upon my soul soon...I have no time to keep...for the caravans have gone and I am left alone..the caravans have gone and the weakness of today's sun bear a tragic tale...
 
The tale of impending doom. 
 
 
-me.

Maliha
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