Saturday, 3 November 2012

Loving My Limbs (The Unsung Heroes)

Told by Hafizah
I may like to see the best in people, but I am not naïve. I know full well that if I had to write out all the failings of the Muslim community, my hand would get severe repetitive strain injury before emptying even half my thoughts out. Everyone’s had that experience where a Muslim has done something that was disgusting, and yet you knew it was just typical behaviour for people within the community. But dwelling on it, wallowing in it and constantly complaining about it is going to help no one.

First of all, remembering the time someone didn't return your salām, the time an acquaintance searched through all your personal belongings, or the time some random stranger went out of their way to tell you you’re going to Hell... is going to make you feel awful! You’ll feel rejected, offended, disrespected, worthless and angry, and where’s the good in that?

Secondly, it’s going to make for one very unhealthy ummah. Investing your time and energy into ranting about all the harm Muslims do puts all your focus on what you don’t like about your fellow brothers and sisters in Islām. Shaykh Yahya Ibrahim put the dangers of this beautifully when he said:
“Thinking poorly of someone always precedes treating them unjustly.”
There’s a very strange psychological affliction called body integrity identity disorder (BIID). Sufferers feel like they need to have their limbs removed to feel happy within themselves. They know exactly where it needs to be amputated to take away their suffering and they may even try to do the job themselves. Their own limbs are enemies to them. To us, it’s mind boggling that someone would want to attack their own body and damage something that is meant to be whole. The Prophet (SAW) told us that as an ummah, we are supposed to be like one whole body, feeling sick if just one limb aches [Muslim]. Instead, we’ve begun to turn on our own limbs, irritated by their presence and eager to hack them off at any opportunity.

Our hate for the flaws of our ummah consumes our thoughts and we can’t deal with the conflict between what we should be and what we are. Rather than trying to solve the problem, we deal by trying to distance ourselves from the actions and the people that do them. We don’t realise that, in doing so, we become less complete because they’re a part of us. Every time we open our mouths to complain about another Muslim, we’re attacking our own selves and recruiting others in the fight.
“You who believe, avoid most suspicion. Indeed some suspicion is a crime. And do not spy and do not backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat his brother’s dead flesh? No, you would hate it. And have taqwa of Allāh, Allāh is Accepting of Repentance, Most Merciful.” (Hujurāt, 49:12)
Do what you can to try and better the situation. Seek help from someone who has the power to change things, teach by example or speak to the person and explain to them why they hurt you; but don’t rant about it and spread the hate and distrust to your friends! That is not going to make things better.

Told by Rukyya
I think one of the saddest things though is that it takes attention away from those amazing Muslims who have really inspired us. Just like everyone has those stories of Muslims who seemingly went out of their way to be cruel, everyone has those stories of Muslims who went out of their way to be courteous and kind.

Muslims are known for their crazy levels of hospitality and generosity. At the beginning of a year studying abroad, I had a family seriously offer for me to stay at their home for a whole academic year so I wouldn’t have to pay the expenses of downtown living. They’d literally only met me once or twice! I was welcomed and looked after in their home for a few days when I had nowhere to stay and the mother actually scolded me when I tried to buy them a few measly bits of fruit and sweet things to return the favour!

Sometimes it’s the smallest acts of kindness that stick with you. I’ll never forget the time when I was around 10 years old and my mum and I met a couple in an Islamic bookshop. I walked out with the adults as they carried on their conversation towards the couple’s car. I could tell the husband really wanted to include me out of kindness. He searched about in his vehicle and pulled out a moneybox with several different compartments in it. It looked like it had been used and may even have had handwritten labels stuck on. The man explained to me what it was for and gave it to me. I took it, actually quite impressed, even though I knew it was a bit of an odd gift. (I was a bit of a strange child who was actually quite good at saving up, so the idea of splitting your savings for different things seemed pretty neat!) As I held it and looked at my new toy, the man’s wife realised what he had just given me and made it clear how ridiculous a gift it was and told him to take it back. He did so reluctantly and gave me some sweets he’d found in the meantime. I remember it because even then I understood that he was so eager to be generous, to give me something, to make me happy, that he gave me anything he could. It didn't matter how silly it seemed, it was about the gesture, and that really touched me.

We all have these experiences buried somewhere in our minds. You may need to dust off all the cynicism, suspicion and doubt, but they’re there. Whether it was from a stranger, a good friend or a family member, we've all been the recipients of extraordinary levels of kind-heartedness or witnessed it given to others. These are the stories we need to be spreading. We could learn a lot from those unsung heroes. Just thinking of them makes our love and care for our brothers and sisters in Islām flourish, and sharing their shining moments with others cultivates that love in their hearts too. They teach us new ways to leave positive impressions on the people we meet and motivate us to up our game and treat others with iḥsān (excellence) too. If we all decided to focus on and share these kinds of stories, I think the body of the Muslim ummah would only become stronger.

We can complain about what we've become, or we can do something about it. I want every single person who reads this to remember just one Muslim they've met who has done something exceptionally kind and then to share it with other Muslims. Comment with it below, tweet it #LovingMyLimbs, post it on Facebook, write it on a card and take a picture to share, call a friend right now and tell them about it, write it as a blog, make your sister a cuppa and share it with her... Tell those stories! Then make it a habit. It’s not about praising the person who did it, so don’t mention a name, it’s about jump starting our love for our brothers and sisters in Islām and the religion we share, it’s about being proud of the people that we’re a part of. Before we can sincerely strive for what’s best for our ummah, we need to think well of them. So let’s get sharing some heart-warming stories and try loving our limbs, shall we?

Told by Fayza

31 comments:

  1. My Muslim neighbour would bring over food that his wife had made and he once caught me off guard as I wasn't wearing a scarf when I opened the door. I tried to hide behind the door as I took the plate of food from him. Embarrassed, I thanked him for the food and quickly closed the door.

    A week or two later I was home alone at night and heard the doorbell, I rushed to it without wearing a scarf thinking it was my family coming home. I opened it to see nobody at the door. Scared and confused, I slammed the garden door shut and ran inside locking the door behind me. The doorbell rang once again and as I was too afraid to open the door I spoke through the intercom.

    I heard a man's voice say in Arabic "Don't be afraid, it's your neighbour. I've just brought some cake that my wife made."

    Still afraid I put on a scarf and went to open the door and once again I found nobody. Just as I was about to close the door a pair of arms extended to give me a plate. It was only after returning back indoors did I realise that my neighbour had hid behind the wall so as not to see me without my hijab as had happened previously.

    The following week I heard someone at the door and put on a scarf and opened the door.
    It was his wife bearing a plate of food.

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    1. Subhanallah, I LOVE this story! Jazillahu khairan sooo much for sharing! Your neighbour's level of consideration is amazing, masha Allah. May Allah reward him for his haya' and kindness. (And his wife for all the treats!)

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  2. Beautifully written, as per usual, mashaAllah. It really does make me reflect upon how I deal with people that do things that bothers me.

    Particular friend of mine is not someone who you'd consider 'pious' or 'practising Muslim', but there's always something about her character, or her generosity in times of need that ends up me making du'a for her more than I've made du'a for anyone else.

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    1. Masha Allah, there's nothing like good character! It leaves a mark on you in ways other things struggle to. May Allah guide your friend and bless her with the best of this world and the next. Jazakillahu khairan for your comment!

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  3. When i left home at 15 a somali family that i grew up with on the same estate.. The mother let me stay with them.. At this time i wasnt even a muslim.. May Allah reward her immensley ameen.. She has raised 5 girls single handedly.. Mashaallah a lovely inspiration... When i go to visit i can sit and talk to het for ages about life and the deen... I love her for the sake of Allah.. Please keep her in your duas xxxx

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    1. Masha Allah what a strong and inspirational woman! May Allah reward her for all her generosity and sacrifice with the best of Jannah. Jazakillahu khairan for sharing, Sister! So amazing to know of people like that.

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  4. Maa Shaa Allah I love your blog and I check it everyday to see if you have posted anything new!! <3
    When I discovered Al Maghrib, I was thristy of knowledge and nothing could stop me from getting it!! I actually attended my first seminar in Birmingham. I remember that I booked a room in a hotel and went to the seminar really excited. I realised that I made a mistake and went to the wrong university. I met a random sister who showed me the way to the correct university which was at the other side of Birmingham. Maa Shaa Allah I was really touched!!! May Allah protect her and give her Jannatul Firdaws, ameen!! #LoveMyLimbs

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    1. Jazakillahu khairan for your lovely comment, Samira!

      That was so kind of her, masha Allah. Just think, she gets the reward of everything you learnt that day!

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  5. I was travelling in India around the time of Eid Al-Adha. I was feeling a little sad because I was away from my family. On visiting a shop I was chatting to the shopkeeper about various things. When he realised I was Muslim he invited me and my friend for a Eid meal back at his family home. We ate with his wife and kids. I was so touched by this random act of generosity to a pair of strangers.

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    1. Masha Allah, that's so sweet! These stories are making me so happy. Jazakillahu khairan for sharing, Ruw!

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  6. When starting my business I didn't know if I could afford to printing my cards. When one of my friends found out she generously offered to pay for printing until I was able to do it myself! #LovingMyLimbs

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    1. Such a generous sister, masha Allah! May Allah reward her for every penny she was willing to spend. Jazakillahu khairan for sharing with us, Amira!

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  7. I love this post so much Samo - it gets better when you read it again :)
    Having limbs is probably one of the nicest things about being a Muslim, and something you don't really appreciate until you start getting all the post-amputation phantom limb pain and think *omg, what have I done?!* #LovingMyLimbs

    I think the loveliest loving limbs stories are the personal ones that don't seem really amazing to everyone else, but give you a warm glowy feeling inside your tummy when you remember.

    When I was 18 and in my first yr of uni (my excuse for being so lily-livered), my housemate and good friend came back from a different city where she had been with other friends, late at night on public transport just for me because she knew I didn't want to spend the night by myself. She really inconvenienced herself and went out of her way for what what was probably not very good company (I seem to remember going to bed!), especially as I myself would run away home at every opportunity, so it really was particularly selfless of her, such that I remember it so many years later when she probably hasn't thought about it since.

    (I'm going to send her the link for this so she remembers what a nice Friendly Limb she was)

    ps - hello samira, miss you :) xx

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    1. Alhamdulillah, I'm so glad. I like it too. Especially the stories I've read and collected since writing it!

      I definitely agree that it's the personal, almost insignificant ones that stick with you. You're blessed to have such kind people around you. (I wouldn't have let you sleep!) May Allah reward her for sacrificing her time for you and you for sharing your story.

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  8. I've got another one that I remembered this afternoon when I was thinking about something. When I was at uni (again!), I was once in the prayer room and stopped to speak to a sister I hadn't met before. I used to try and make a point of speaking to the 'older' looking people as they were usually postgrads (therefore by definition much more interesting than the boring medics I had to spend my life with) and I could find out about all the interesting things people did phds in and dream of being like them.
    This one did not let me down: she was doing her PhD on Dutch colonialism in Indonesia. We talked for some time about various things; she had come over from abroad with her young children and was juggling looking after them with studying and trips to Holland. She was worried for her children's Islamic education, and wanted them to learn proper tajweed. In parting she told me that things were difficult financially and would I pray for her that she found a job soon? I knew (though she had not said so in so many words) that she was in dire straits, and ached to help her. I could barely imagine what it must be to have to consider whether you had enough money for food, or for gas and electricity for the week, and have little people dependant on you. But what could I do? I was only a poor student myself and lived completely off my parents' money.

    There are times in your life when you know absolutely that Allah 'azza wa jall, puts you in a situation where you have the ability to do something for somebody He loves, and if you play your cards right, and somehow become a little cog in something great, it's the kind of thing you can use to make the boulder move when you're stuck in a cave. If you mess up, then you're pretty much a loser. So I realised this at the time, rather, *felt* it in the core of my heart, and knowing I had to do something, finally decided to ask somebody I knew for some money. The person I asked, immediately, without even questioning me further, without even asking about when the money was likely to be returned or any of the millions of things that I would've asked, gave me the money (and would have given me more, except I myself said no).
    I can't describe the reaction of the other sister was when I saw her a few days later and gave her the money. Words are wholly inadequate for memories that make my eyes blur and bring a lump to my throat. I realised then what a complete and utter fool I was. The lender showed me that what I had considered a favour, was in fact an honour - an honour that Allah ' azza wa jall only gives particular people in the world, because the rest of us wouldn't understand it. There was absolutely no way to explain how from all the millions of people who could've easily helped the sister, somebody so completely random, so far removed and unconnected, was chosen (there was no way on earth they would have met). And how amazing it is to be the sort of person that, when people are in trouble, they can come to you and know you will help, as I did so many years ago.

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    1. cont.

      The story does have an ending: around 4 years later, I was in my final year and working one evening in my room. I got a phonecall from an unknown number but the line was very bad, and it sounded like the person had got the wrong number as she had a strong accent and repeated a name that I didn't recognise so I put the phone down and thought nothing more of it. A few weeks later, a friend on my course came and asked me if I knew sister x (they were from the same country) as she had tried to phone me - I didn't remember, until she told me that I had lent her some money some years ago and she had been trying to track me down as she wanted to pay it back before she disappeared off into the horizon and she may not get the opportunity to be in the country again. I was surprised of course - I had forgotton about it completely (I'd been told by the lender that she didn't want the money back as she didn't need it, and needed the reward more). But above all, I was filled with pride - pride at the trustworthiness of a single Muslim that lasted through so many years, pride that her Lord was mine too, pride that I was unwittingly part of something so utterly beautiful, to speak about it would be almost to desecrate it.

      Two amazing people. I consider myself blessed that I know and have known them. I ask Allah, besides whom there is none worthy of worship, that if those actions were done to please Him, He removes the boulders from their lives, ameen.

      #LovingMyLimbs

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    2. That's beautiful. Subhanallah! What a blessing to know someone who would be so eager to give and to have crossed paths with someone who keeps to their word. May Allah reward you all for your good intentions.

      Jazakillahu khairan for sharing, Doc. Love you big time for the sake of Allah.

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    3. A sister sent me a message as she wanted to reply to your comment.

      "Assalamu alaikum sis

      JazaakiAllah khair for such a beautiful story. I'm actually crying right now, sniffling like a fool in the middle of the library :')

      I've been going through a tough time with my iman, even had some terrible thoughts about leaving Islam... and somehow this has really helped. I don't understand every Islamic command, but I do know that I love Allah and I love the Muslims. It was this one line that got me: 'But above all, I was filled with pride - pride at the trustworthiness of a single Muslim that lasted through so many years, *pride that her Lord was mine too*'

      Thanks again, may Allah bless you. Love you for His sake xxx"

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  9. wa alaykum us-salaam dear,
    Jazakillah kheyra for your lovely comment - it really made my day :) It's such a nice feeling when Allah 'azza wa jall makes you a medium through which to help or console someone, especially when you don't even realise it at the time, as in this case. It's one of the reasons why I loved #LovingMyLimbs - it's so easy to become bitter and disillusioned about life in general, and just hearing about the sincere selflessness of normal people who live around us helps puts things into perspective. Especially when you consider that most of the most amazing things are done by people who are tested a lot in their lives, yet they still manage to help others. I was reflecting some time ago after reading No Fruit From Visitors by Tariq Mehanna fakkAllahu asrah (It's a very moving read - please do if you've haven't done before: http://aseerun.org/2012/03/02/tariq-mehanna-february-28-2012-no-fruit-from-visitors/) how curious it is that someone could be so beneficial to the people despite being in prison in solitary confinement, subhanAllah, and I realised that it really must be a sign of success to be so chosen by Allah. We ask Allah to guide us, and guide others through us, and may the One for whose sake you love me love you too *big hug* xxx
    (PS - Islam is *all* about loving Allah and loving the Muslims!)
    (PPS may Allah reward our dearest Samo for writing this lovely post and inspiring such warm gooiness in our tummies and warm water in our eyes and warm smiles on our faces, ameen)

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    1. Both of us loved 'No Fruit From Visitors'. Just what I needed. Jazakillahu khairan for sharing!

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  10. It was hard at first to remember a time a Muslim went out of their way to do something for me...until I did..loads of incidents in fact!! I work varied 8 hour shifts..sometimes they end at 18:30 or 20:15. These shifts are fine during the Summer but when the Sun sets at 16:00, it is freezing cold outside and it is practically pitch dark taking two buses back home is not ideal at all, especially if it is a weekend! In my team I have a Pakistan friend who has constantly offered to give me a lift and I said no so many times as she lives North of Manchester and I Central..I could not find it in my heart to bother her like that. But whenever I and her had a late shift together she would insist on giving me a lift even though I try to evade her lol.

    Another time, I was having my lunch and there was another Pakistan lady who works in another department. We chatted the usual and actually found out we live in the same area and so she asked me if I had a car and I said no. That was all she needed she kept insisting she will give me a lift and I kept saying no. She was an aunty jee and she was seriously getting offended so I gave in. It was very kind of her to offer a lift when I just met her a few hours before and only spoke for like 20 minutes!!

    The ultimate act of kindship was from another work collegue, yup she is Pakistani too, who started recently. She found out we live in the same area from my teammate and since then she has refused to let me go home by bus! She is younger than me and acts like my mother. She would drop me to my house and actually wait for me to get in. I have constantly tried to evade her but she wouldn't allow it. I hope she forgets that I am on a late shift but she always knows! I offered to share petrol cost but she refused and actually got offended! Now she has forbidden me from saying 'Thank you' threatening me with violence if I did.

    From these incidents I thought I did not know such selfless very very kind people actually existed!! Pray for all three of them please. I love them all. And Pakistan sisters rock..All love xx

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    1. Masha Allah, that's so sweet! Jazakillahu khairan for sharing! I think the message is clear, you are GOING to be driven home!

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  11. I had always wanted a 'tudung' (this is the hijab that alot of malaysians/indonesians wear). I had been looking for one for ages, but here everywhere i went they only had the ones where it goes round your face and because i have a longish face i wear my hijab pointy and really wanted one with a sewn-in curved visor that looks like this- http://shw.ashanim99.fotopages.com/15209453/tudung-sarimah-tabur-mutiara-RM-45.html. Also i really wanted one so when i had a thin see through-ish scarf i could just wear it on top and it would be perfect! as well as the fact that on windy and especially rainy days i wouldnt get a dip on the the of the hijab, (which is really annoying) and that it literally takes seconds to put on!

    Anyway i met a sister from indonesia at the university prayer room and we would exchange salams whenever we met and chat for a little while. One day we might have had a conversation about the tudungs. The sister went back home to Indonesia during holidays and she brought me one back as a gift! i was taken back by such kindness and the fact that she had remembered our conversation. May allah reward her for such kindness and also for when i wear my tudung

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    1. Such a cute story, masha Allah. Jazakillahu khairan for sharing! It's so nice when people remember your preferences anyway. Makes you feel special!

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  12. I remembered this yesterday - in The Hobbit when the party gets to Rivendell, Galadriel (where did she come from?) asks Gandalf why he brought Bilbo along. (It's brill btw if you haven't seen it - you know the lovely feeling of reliefy-satisfaction when a film doesn't destroy something you held safely for years in your head?)

    Galadriel: Why the Hafling?
    Gandalf: Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. *I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love.* Why Bilbo Baggins? That's because I am afraid and it gives me courage.

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    1. I love it! Jazakillahu khairan for sharing!

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  13. Salaam I just wanted to.know if you came to a girls school for book week.and if yes,then I was there ;-) anyway very nice blog Masha Allah

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    1. Wa alaikum assalam warahmatullah, Sughar

      Yes I did! Most attentive audience I think I've ever spoken in front of too, masha Allah. Jazakillahu khairan for your lovely comment. Glad you managed to find us. I'd love if you could share one of your own Loving My Limbs stories with us!

      By the way, the Twilight post is one of the older ones so you'll need to go backwards!

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  14. Assalaamu alaikum Sister,

    I loved this post, masha'Allah and particularly loved your hadith encapsulating 'LovingMyLimbs' phrase. I really like writing but often capture my ideas on my evernote app and seldom them through, as a new(ish) mum. One of the titles on my evernote reads 'think about good deeds writing i'A' - my idea was to think about and write a nice gesture-recording article of some sort. I hope to push forward with that, having read this, insha'Allah.

    The lovely gesture of a Muslim that I thought of was of somebody who once said very kind words to me. I began practising Islam almost 4 years ago now, alhamdulillah. Before that, I was a normalish young 'un...I did have, what I believed to be, a 'good' sense of morality. I knew a family friend who I perceived to be very religious and very pleasant - my mum's cousin. Whenever I spoke to her, she treated me well, she spoke to me kindly. She didn't put me down, nor scold me for not wearing hijab. I liked her. When Allah did guide me alhamdulillah, and I began practising and my exterior had changed, I bumped into her wearing my abayya and scarf...she was so pleased, masha'Allah. I was going through some tests which made me question my self worth sometimes. And she gave me the beautiful gift of kind words: she told me that she always liked me, and thought that I had lovely character, and alhamdulillah that I was now practising my deen as well (and that she used to pray for me she said, I think...which warms my heart). I felt like, and still feel like, she believes in me, which is lovely. She told me to go to her relative's store and select two abayyas of my choice, and that she'd settle the bill - just mention my name, she said. I didn't take her up on that, but I love her for the sake of Allah. A kind word really is sadaqah, as our beloved Messenger SAW said.

    Now, I'm married with a son, and when I had my little one, my aunt (the lady in question) and her mum came to see me in my home and gave us £100 for our little boy. She commented that she was sorry they couldn't find an envelope to put the money in, bless her. I'm teary now, and #LovingMyLimbs. Jazakillahu khairan for a beautiful post. I recently liked you on facebook, alhamdulillah: Umm Isma'il.

    Ramadan Mubaarak sis.

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    1. *seldom FOLLOW them through is what I meant...

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    2. Wa alaikum assalam warahmatullahi wabaraatu

      Jazakakillahu khairan for your lovely comment! I hope you do go through wth that Evernote idea, it seems like an amazing and fun way to increase your eman.

      Your story is so touching, masha Allah! It's so nice to have someone believe in you and support you even when you know you're falling short. May Allah continue to guide her and bless her with the highest level of Jannah.

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