How strong is the nail rooted?

There is one word in the Quran that is so beautiful and deep in teaching us the etiquette of being a student of knowledge. One word; so comprehensive, and so deep.  Such is the Quran; the more closer you learn from it, the more deeper you dive into its ocean of wisdom.

‘Ar Raasikhoona fil ilm’, meaning ‘those who are firmly rooted in knowledge’: Allah swt uses the word ‘Raasikh’ which comes from its roots, ra seen kha; rusookh, giving us the meaning of being firmly grounded, like a nail pinned/hammered so deep into a wall such that even if you hang something heavy on it, it won’t fall, because a large portion of it is pinned in the wall.

Meaning, the one who is firmly rooted in knowledge is not only the one who has a lot of knowledge, but that knowledge is strongly connected to the actions in their lives; there is literally no disconnect between their knowledge and their lives, their words and their actions. In other words: they are firmly rooted in their knowledge that it is manifest through their implementation of it. We see their knowledge in their actions.
And no matter how heavy a matter is hung on the nail, no matter how difficult or tempting a situation they face, the nail doesn’t easily uproot from the wall, they do not easily give in; instead they follow the straight path. Such are the Raasikh, the people who are firmly and deeply rooted in their knowledge.

One can read and study books upon books completely filled with notes, one can have many degrees from big universities, but one is a Raasikh, only when they have fully understood all that knowledge and implemented it and USED it. The more a person acts upon knowledge, the more he remembers it.

Allah SWT describes these people and mentions this word in two places in the Quran. In Surah Ale Imran verse 7 and in Surah Nisa verse 162.

Now, Who are these people? How do we recognize their characteristics or strive to be like them?

But those firm in knowledge among them and the believers believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you. And the establishers of prayer [especially] and the givers of zakah and the believers in Allah and the Last Day – those We will give a great reward. [Surah Nisa, 162]

  • They believe in the revelations of Allah
  • They firmly establish prayer [Side note: In this verse, the scholars say that this point of establishing salah has been given so much emphasis and honor due to grammatical explanations I won’t go into here] It is sufficient to know that the state of our prayer is a huge criteria of our faith and our level of being a raasikh or not.
  • Are givers of Zakah
  • Believe in Allah and the Last Day

Ibn Al-Mundhir recorded in his Tafsir that Nafi` bin Yazid said, “Those firmly grounded in knowledge are those who are modest for Allah’s sake, humbly seek His pleasure, and do not exaggerate regarding those above them, or belittle those below them.”  They don’t compromise for the sake of others, neither do they seek respect from others; they tell people what is correct and don’t show arrogance or bad character or bias in saying the truth. And they don’t complain if people don’t accept/acknowledge them.

The Prophet SAW was asked about the ‘rasikhooona fil ilm’ and he said he is the one who does not swear false oaths and he speaks the truth and his heart is firm upon faith. [my teacher said this but I can’t find the exact hadeeth online to link here]

Dua of those firmly grounded in knowledge:

Even though they are so deeply and firmly tied to knowledge, they understand the value of being rightly guided and yearn to never lose it, so they make this supplication:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ

“Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower. [Ale Imran, 8]

The question now is, how deep is my nail rooted today?

Is it rusted? Is it rotten? Is it falling apart already? or Is it strong enough?

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Fly soul, fly…

Reading the works of the scholars of the past, makes you wonder in awe of how deep they thought and contemplated in every aspect of life. Right now its like a trend to forward and share their quotes right? Sometimes without even internalizing it and sometimes relating to it saying “aah soo truueee”!

I was reflecting on how their lives might have been; so focused, so much self introspection, and so much contemplation.

Because if you think about it, behind the most beautiful, deep and thoughtful writings are hard heartfelt experiences, struggles, failures and successes. They went through it all, fought battles with their souls and with the outer temptations, they recognized their inner and outer enemies and worked on not letting it affect them. They lived ‘consciously’ every day, knowing the state of this world and the test they’re facing. They knew the real deal was to invest in their hereafter and be careful of it.

Did you ever feel that right now the world is so deluded into living their lives on social media? Like a virtual reality that makes one content with the way our profile is, the fame or good thoughts people have of us? Constantly ensuring we are up to date with the rest of the world, we aren’t ‘missing out’, and that our profiles are flawless.

Back then, this virtual reality for those amazing scholars was THIS world. Yes, there was no social media or internet back then. This world in itself was a delusion for them and they focused and fought and strove so hard on not letting it delude them. Hence, now we see mountains and mountains of their BEAUTIFUL works that takes ages to comprehend in depth since its depth can only be understood by those who really try and stand where they were standing back then. Understood by those who truly want to understand what those scholars got of the reality of life.

And the truth is, it is those scholars of the past who understood “virtual reality” very well; That this world is nothing but a delusion. Its like that movie inception we are in now. A virtual reality within a virtual reality. And only some who try and reflect everyday like those few did those days, will truly come out of it successfully.

“Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.

And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.” [Surah Ale imran, verse 185]

Oh but here’s the twist. 

Should we then abandon this world and sit in a corner, waiting for death, coz this world means nothing? No!

In one of the chapters of the Qur’an that we are highly recommended to read every single day before retiring for the night, Surah Mulk, Allah SWT tells us of our purpose of being born and raised in this world. Yes! The same world HE calls a delusion. He tells that He created us to test us which of us are perfect in our deeds, which one of us are better in deeds than the rest.  Like a competition, for the hereafter. A few verses after that, He mentions to us as to how He created this world so tame for us to walk on it comfortably, USE it comfortably and use its sustenance!
And how do we make use of this delusional world then? By using it as a tool, a means to attain that which is eternal, that which the scholars of the past strove for.

It is a matter of the intellect to know and use this world for the benefit of our hereafter. And make the BEST out of this world, without despairing.  🙂

Don’t let their praises delude you. Don’t let their criticism delude. Don’t be grieved over the matters of this world. Don’t be overjoyed  with its matters either. O soul, fly!

Fly like a bird, O soul! Take from the earth what you need and rise higher, for your station of settlement isn’t here yet..
Fly; but don’t flee from this world either..

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Life in the little seeds

My friend this morning was talking about the quote we were often taught as a life lesson growing up; “As you sow, so shall you reap’. But she had another perspective to it this time. However, while I let her explain, I was thinking more about sowing. What do we sow and what do we reap. What a huge life lesson did they think they accomplished in teaching us at such a young age? They thought they did but they didn’t.

I sit by my window, hearing the birds chirp while I read to my son. I’m just reading physically, but in my mind, I’m in another world; thinking about the exam I missed this week, the painting order I failed to deliver on time even though its almost complete, and all the ‘failures’ of my life.
Suddenly it starts pouring and my son who was engrossed in what I was reading, gets distracted by the sound of life and the sound of rain by our window. He climbs over my window sill quickly and watches our neem tree enjoying itself in the coolness of the rain. Plants in our terrace all welcoming the much awaited arrival of nature’s water soaking themselves into it; to bloom back to life again. To revive.

‘Its all connected.’ my mind says.

Every moment of our lives, we are sowing seeds. Sometimes, we think we are sowing a particular seed, we know what it will bloom into and aim for it. But it just won’t grow. Its climate, its environment; doesn’t suit it. We try so hard. And then we think we’ve failed. But we haven’t. We are so lost in those little seeds that we forget the rest of the forest we may have nurtured.

Everyday I used to think of how I used to be able to do so much back in the days but time and situations just strangle me and I’m so incapable now to do even the littlest and easiest of things!
But right now, I just sat back and zoomed out of my seed. Out of ‘that which I tried so hard to plant’ and saw instead a beautiful little garden of blooms.

When I was lost in those seeds I thought I failed to grow, there did come a bloom in another part of my garden; Of a little boy loving to read, of a healthy home, of love in the eyes of my spouse and family, of a community of old and young that learnt so much in a few classes, of little girls trying to learn some of my talents, and much more. All these blooms didnt just happen out of no where. They took my time, my effort, my energy, a lot of careful nurturing, and also a lot of external factors. They didn’t just happen.
I just had to zoom out.

When you have so many things on your mental load, sometimes you feel so stressed of underachieving. Again and again you give in, thinking you’ll do it next time. But here’s to those moments you gave up something close to your heart to attend to the needs of your child/near ones. Here’s to all those moments when you had to get something done but was the exact time no one else could handle your child for you and he needed only YOU. Here’s to you- YOU. DIDN’T.FAIL. You just zoomed out of your little seed and made another little garden bloom.

And when you slowly learn to zoom out; what about those seeds that you thought you failed to grow? Trust me; they will will bloom too, just in the right time and phase. Just like that little garden around you RIGHT NOW that you actually toiled so hard for.

There is life in those little seeds. Sow them. Water them. Toil. But take out moments to relax in your little garden of blooms too. :’)

 

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Maryam’s AS silence.

How do you feel when someone blames you and mocks you for something you didn’t even do? Don’t you feel like screaming out as much as you can to prove yourself right; to prove yourself innocent? What then, if the entire society around you talks about you, slanders upon slanders and noone is ready to believe you? How far would you try and fight for your innocence?
Maryam AS (Mary) comes back to her society holding a baby in her hands. And everyone asks her what a dishonor she brought to her family! Imagine how would it be for her when her Lord and your Lord commands her to fast from talking! What? I can’t even speak up now in my defense? But she did fast. She obeyed. And Allah swt caused a miracle to happen; Prophet Isa AS speaks in the cradle. She didn’t falter even a little in her faith and her obedience to Him, and He didn’t disappoint her.

Sometimes, in silence and true reliance of Allah lies our greatest defense. Sometimes, to be silent is our greatest test.

Sigh. How words of some people just stick to you forever ❤ While listening to Surah AleImran today, the part where Maryam AS is blessed with a son came. It took me to 5 or 6 years ago when Aunty Rifath, a dear one, had reflected on this great test of Maryams AS and her amazing patience to be able BE QUIET. She said this so wonderfully that its stuck to me until now.

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My Little steps for this not-so-great Ramadan..

This Ramadan hasn’t been quite great from the lens of all those articles screaming how to make the best of Ramadan, how to have the most productive Ramadan ever and what not. This Ramadan, I have not been at my best, for some reasons beyond my control (like health) and some reasons that ARE in my control (like phone addiction and poor time management).

I appreciate those who say ‘This is how you should feel, so it’ll motivate you to work harder’ or ‘Intentions are what matters! Make the best through them inshaAllah’. But honestly, after having Ramadans much better than this, times when a connection with Allah and Qur’an were much better than now, I am honestly unable to accept the way things are now; even if I have a million reasons for it, even if i have concession from fasting, even if Allah knows my heart and intentions; even if everyone says so.

I cannot explain the sorrow that lingers in my heart to not be able to do all that I used to be able to do in the Ramadans of the past. Is it something somewhere I went wrong? Is it just circumstances of life I’m yet to learn to adjust to? Did I lose a chance I was given before because I took my blessings for granted? Questions keep lingering in my mind with one thing constant – sadness of missing the best of me, my health,  spiritual and physical, during this best month of the year. 😥

So in my own way, this is the best I have tried so far with Ramadan and what can I DO to improve on my Salah, connection with Allah and the Qur’an. So far, its going o-k-a-y, but maybe its the best I can honestly, honestly give.

Here are some quick tips kinda thing for the people who’s Ramadan ain’t going so well yet, for those unwell and exempted from fasting and still yearning for the ramadan spirit:

1) One STRONG prayer:

Make ONE strong sinceeeere dua for connecting back to Allah and the quran. Make it one strong one even if it takes a lot of time. Do it sincerely. With istighfar and all. All it takes is an act of sincerity for our merciful Lord.

Choose ONE prayer where nothing is going to distract you, and focus on your relationship with Allah SWT. Focus on every ‘Allahu Akbar’ that Allah is greater than everything else, and here you are, standing before Him, sincerely pleading Him to get you back to Him.

This must inlcude lots and lots of repentance; for definitely, it is our sins that block us from His bountiful mercy, its our sins that are blocking us now from perhaps feeling the best in Ramadan; so lots and lots of sincere istighfar. 😥

2) Not fasting, so Keep tongue moist….err….with Dhikr!

If you’re unable to fast, then increase in dhikr (remembrance of Allah) whilst doing your chores. Look for the most beautiful of beautiful ways to glorify Allah swt. These couple of days, I am in love with glorifying Allah SWT by the dhikr:

‘سبوحٌ قدوسٌ ربُ الملائکهِ و الرُّوح’  and maybe in a couple of days it would be….. hmm Hamdan Katheeran Mubarakan Feeh or Allahumma innaka  afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fa’fu anni.

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “What you mention of glory of Allah, of at-Tabsih (Subhan-Allah), at-Tahlil (Allahu-Akbar) and at-Tahmid (Al-Hamdu lillah), revolves around the Arsh of Allah, buzzing like bees, reminding of the one who said it. Wouldn’t any one of you like to have, or continue to have, something that reminds of him (in the presence of Allah)?'”  [Sahih]
SubhanAllah! (Say it now!)
Just imagine your name being buzzed like a bee around the Arsh of Allah SWT! Scholars agree that the Prophet SAW used the terms Tahmeed, Tahleel and Tasbeeh in the form at-Tahmeed, at-tahleel, and At-tasbeeh, meaning it includes not just SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah And la ilaaha illAllah, but also every possible adhkar or glorification that praises the perfectness of Allah SWT! SubhanAllah!
[Source: Sweetness of Salah: Rukuh, by br.Farhan Abdul Aziz]

Keep your tongue moist with anyyyy glorification of Allah SWT often. Play it in your mind like a tape recorder on repeat; whilst washing dishes or folding clothes or cooking etc. Include conscious repeated istighfar here too.

3) Recite just 10 verses!

Manage a mininum of 10 verses in the night. Just 10 minnnimum. To gain something thats better than the world and more!  Yes!

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever recites ten verses in the night, a heap of reward will be recorded for him, and that is better for him than the world and whatever that is in it.” [Saheeh at-Targheeb w at-Tarheeb: 638]

 

 This is for any night, imagine then the nights of Ramadan, the month that is not like any other month, where rewards are only magnified to an extent only Allah SWT knows!
For those who can do more than 10 verses, by all means must. This tip is for those whose toddler/babies demand their attention while they are reciting and they’d have to stop for a while or so, or those who are too sick or tired such that reciting get them tired.

4) Listen to some eman inducing lectures

 

We have plenty available online. Right now, with an aim to improve on my Salah, I followed a lecture series on the sweetness of Salah, and Alhamdulillah its been an amazing one so far, slowly helping me refocus on my iman. There are plenty more. Just do this for the sake of learning more, improving on your own self by practicing what you learn, even if little by little.
My teacher Taiymiyyah Zubair said something I really needed! – ‘Do you know that Qiyam al-Layl is not restricted to ‘Standing in prayer’ during the night? It actually includes any act of worship that a person performs in the night, whether it is Salah, recitation of the Qur’an or listening to it, Du’a, Dhikr, and even listening to good speech!

And the Prophet (s) said that whoever ‘qaama’ in the nights of Ramadan with faith and expectation of reward will be forgiven for all his sins. So if you are not able to pray Salah (such as Tarawih or Tahajjud) in the nights of Ramadan, spend at least some time in the worship of Allah, even if it is just making Dhikr and Du’a. And if you can recite the Qur’an that is even better. Check this out:On the Day of Judgment, the Qur’an will say, “I am the one who kept you awake at night, and made you thirsty in the day” [as-Silsilah as-Saheehah: 2829] ‘

5) Stick to this reminder whenever you forget:

 

Whenever I feel like ‘it’s ok to slack once in a while’; this article I read last year, and this hadeeth in particular, is what makes me realise ‘No its not ok! Get up and do something about it!’ –

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ascended the pulpit and said, “Ameen, Ameen, Ameen.”We asked him, “O Messenger of Allah, you ascended the pulpit and said Ameen, Ameen, Ameen?” The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Verily, Jibreel came to me and he said: Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and he is not forgiven, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah will cast him far away, so say Ameen. I said Ameen.

Whoever sees his parents in their old age, one or both of them, and he does not honor them and he dies, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah will cast him far away, so say Ameen. I said Ameen.

Whoever has your name mentioned in his presence and he does not send blessings upon you and he dies, then he will enter Hellfire and Allah will cast him far away, so say Ameen. I said Ameen.” [Sahih Ibn Hibban]

May Allah SWT save us from being amongst those prayed against by the Prophet SAW and Angel Jibreel AS! Ameen.

Take little steps towards Allah SWT, no matter how weak you are now; He will take HUUUGE steps towards you without fail.

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4 simple ways you can etch the Quran in your heart iA

My husband comes one afternoon from the Masjid, and says to me “Today, I re-memorized such and such part from the Qur’an”. Normally I’d then take the mushaf and ask him to recite to me while I check. This time I decided to do otherwise. It was a part I was meant to revise after ages myself; from the list of long Surahs I had memorized and then forgotten without reciting in prayer or often.

So I started with the first verse and asked him if that was the beginning of the surah. I tried to mumble the second verse and I almost made it. Then with a lot of forceful pushing of memory I made it to the next and also remembered how the process mentioned in the second verse repeated in the next verse so the verse itself repeated. Then… I found something interesting in the pattern of  how i remembered the verse.

I kept describing the scenario that comes in the next verse to him in english and with a lot of effort slowly slowly remembered, word by word, the verse.

Just like you try to remember an old movie you watched a long time ago, it felt like I was trying to recollect a scene I had pictured when I learnt it before and that helped me so much I actually made it to the end of the Surah without looking at the Mushaf! Alhamdulillah.

I was able to tell him ‘this is the message behind the next verse right?’ Even before I was able to recollect the exact verse. ‘Then this happens to the man, right…?’ and thats how before I knew, I was able to recollect an entire Surah that I had not touched for a long long time and had really forgotten it so much so that when I tried in prayer just a few days before this incident, I couldn’t remember anything at all!

Here are some action points I’ve been able to take from this incident:

  1. Let the Qur’an speak:

    See what message each verse is telling you. And don’t move ahead until you connect with each word of each verse.  Don’t just memorize. Take time to internalise. This could be in the form of understanding whats being said, or connecting the dots. And most importantly, applying it in life. Also, reading it in prayer.While in tafsir class, I realized how beautifully the Qur’an is intricate with rich imagery, meanings and themes that flow into one another. In some places, I noticed how beautifully the chosen words of Allah are, when they keep rhyming at the end of the verse, until the scenario changes! Even letters are chosen so carefully, some surahs end with bouncing letters entirely (for example) or until a particular description is done. Why has Allah SWT used this word and not that? Why does this verse end with this name of Allah and not that? Why did Allah SWT mention this here when the same word is used in an antonymous context in another verse? Ask. Keep asking questions, find answers. Until you can envision an entire Surah in your head, and not forget a single verse as you revise/memorize. This not only helps to quench our souls thirst for Allah’s magnificent words, but also deeply etches what we memorize into our hearts, like a carving on stone. (ofcourse revision included, revision gets easier bi ithnillah)

    Take notes of your thoughts and lessons, as you do this. Because when or if those days come when your connection with the Qur’an is weak, these notes will help like gold!

  2. A few chunks a day:

    I had memorized the above, in parts of 5 verses per day during Ramadan nights. Its rare when you remember the exact time you memorized something long ago right? Focusing on those 5 verses, what they were saying and then repeating them again and again till they got solidified, helped me now! Without making me totally blank.When we do a little everyday, we tend to never give up, and it also get more clearly etched. Getting little done but very well done is always better than getting much done, to be forgotten or confusing soon. A few consistent chunks, is also more rewarding as Allah SWT loves those deeds that are few, but consistent. [Hadith]
  3. The Qur’an requires your attention:

    And dedication, In every way. From your constant discipline in learning it, respect to it and in your commitment to it. Humility in receiving it, to sincerity in learning it. Every time an evil thought like backbiting, or not fixing my hijab coz ‘meh…just a worker’ comes to my mind, I feel afraid that I might lose a part of the Quran in me. This fear of losing the Quran helps to remain steadfast during the day, and vice versa!! Meaning to say, it requires our attention every single minute of the day, and not just when the time you’ve alloted or your hifdh/tafsir/tajwid class time comes.

    One thing I have practically learnt in life, is that even if we aren’t Qur’an students, even if we don’t excel in Quranic Arabic, when we are constant every single day in connecting to the Quran; be it just reciting it even, it aids in developing a deeper connection to it. Slowly it opens its secrets to us, and our understanding deepens, and our thirst for understanding more increases, bi ithnillah.

    So if you’re at the beginners stage, wondering how do people do it? Take the Mushaf now, keep your sincerity intact, and make yourself an oath or something to connect to the Quran in your own way, every single day. 🙂 It will make a world’s difference!

  4. Help of Allah:

    Needless to say, nothing is possible without the help of Allah, and nothing is impossible with his help, and indeed, His help is always near. 🙂 Dua. Dua. Dua. And I cannot stress enough on this point.

    May Allah SWT make us all… Living examples of the Qur’an. Ameen.

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Changes

Life is unpredictable. And having a baby teaches you so much! I had almost forgotten how life was all about change, until Baby Ahmed came into my life. We often take control of our lives and make decisions such that we are able to adjust and cope with changes. Normally this is the case.

But when there is a baby, right when you feel you have settled with a new and good schedule for the days, the baby hits another milestone and you’re confused about how to go about with life (or even days) again!

But that’s the nature of life, and we perhaps forgot it somewhere. While I beg Allah that I get a full night’s sleep just this once (everyday 😀 ) and ask Him to make Ahmed sleep through the night, I realize how every moment in our lives has been about change, and all of it has been under His control.

We sometimes think ‘I am happy in my zone, I don’t want to get married. I am feeling perfect in this position, I’m not gonna leave this job’ etc. etc, don’t we?

Firstly, how much of our lives has been in our control anyway? No matter who our dream spouse is, dream house or place, dream job, dream course, dream business, nothing is possible except if He wills. Secondly, life is ALL about change, all about growth. If we remain in one place, we will only feel lost sooner or later.

They say we get attached to people or things or dreams. But we do get attached to phases of life as well. Attachments; to moments in life. Makes us struggle to embrace changes and makes life harder instead.

Human beings, by nature fear change. Allah swt mentions it so beautifully saying that in Jannah, we will be given provisions that look alike and we would even exclaim ‘This is what we were provided with before!’ However, it will actually not be the same, and we would be pleasantly surprised. And just as we are so comfortable with something we are familiar with, we will enjoy it comfortably inshaAllah! 🙂  [Interestingly enough, learnt this in my tafsir class, and related to it today]

وَبَشِّرِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أَنَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ ۖ كُلَّمَا رُزِقُوا مِنْهَا مِن ثَمَرَةٍ رِّزْقًا ۙ قَالُوا هَٰذَا الَّذِي رُزِقْنَا مِن قَبْلُ ۖ وَأُتُوا بِهِ مُتَشَابِهًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ فِيهَا أَزْوَاجٌ مُّطَهَّرَةٌ ۖ وَهُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

And give good tidings to those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will have gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow. Whenever they are provided with a provision of fruit therefrom, they will say, “This is what we were provided with before.” And it is given to them in likeness. And they will have therein purified spouses, and they will abide therein eternally. [The Holy Qur’an, 2:25]

Embrace change today, with confidence and faith. For as they say ‘change is the only constant of life’ . It gets adventurous, trust me.

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