From the one and only Amir al-Mu’minin.


Everyone aspires to be happy in his life. Imam Ali (as) provides you with a nine-point canon to reach this goal thus:

قَوَاعِد الْسَّعَادَة الْتِسع لِأَمِير الْمُؤْمِنِيْن عَلِي عَلَيْه الْسَّلَام:
Nine rules for happiness by the Commander of the Faithful Ali :
أولاً: توكل على الله في السراء والضراء
FIRST: Rely on Allah when pleased and when grieved.

ثانياً: اتق الله في خلواتك و سفرك وحضرك
SECOND: Fear Allah when you are alone, when travelling and when at home.

ثالثاً: لَا تُكْرَه أَحَدا مُهِمَّا أَخْطَأ فِي حَقِّك
THIRD: Do not coerce anyone, no matter how much he wrongs you.

رابعاً: لَا تَقْلَق أَبَدا مَهْمَا بَلَّغْت الْهُمُوْم ذروتها
FOURTH: Do not worry, no matter how high your concerns may pile up.

خامساً: عِش فِي بَسَاطَة مَهْمَا عَلَا شَأْنُك
FIFTH: Live simply no matter how high your prestige may be.

سادساً: تَوَقَّع خَيْرَا مَهْمَا…

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Rumi Remix – The Guest House

This being human is a guest house. 
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a complexity, a malice, 
some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all! 
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, sudden sharp spasm of pain  
who violently sweep your house 
empty of its furniture,
 still, treat each guest honourably, respectfully, joyfully. He may be clearing you out 
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the pain. Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in, ready to face another life.

I cherish all my shattered pieces, scattered symmetrical glass upon the floor.

Pain can transcend time and place, aches and confusion – all relished, felt and immersed within.

Be grateful for whatever comes. Because each has been sent
 as a guide from beyond.

Captured my soul

There are only a few rare moments that we wholly remember with our heart and soul. These moments are never to do with people, wealth or success. Even though these things do bring us happiness, it’s very much temporary. Being captured in the moment is something greater. My whole life I’ve wondered why we as humans have spiritual ups and downs. It’s finally making sense.

Whenever I travel whether it’s to a religious landmark or a volunteer project– there is always a moment I will never forget. I can still close my eyes and remember how I felt when I visited Masjidul Jamkaran in Qum, Iran. I can still remember the smiles of the young orphaned children in Kibaha, Tanzania or the first time I saw the shrine of Hazrat Abbas in Karbala, Iraq. Regardless of those perfect memories, we return to our lives mystified, but also a little lost. Why don’t the best moments of our life last longer? Why is it always just a glimpse? Is it far-fetched to ask for it to stay forever?  Sometimes our souls prevent us from feeling the things  which we once felt.

It’s slowly melted into my mind. A scholar once spoke about receiving snapshots of light that remain with us forever. We’re given gifts from the beloved and only at the right moment at the right time, when our hearts in the right place we are blessed with snapshots of divinity and closeness to our Lord. They come and leave so quickly but they enlighten our hearts evermore. From this day, two years on, I still wonder if I will ever feel that way again.

So, the moments that truly capture our hearts aren’t about people, money, or achievement. It’s something so much greater, something we can’t even put into words.

It’s during these moments where we truly connected with our souls.

Captured within me, eternally.

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Last weekend in Africa

Saturday 24th August 2013

Our last morning together – woken up by Zainab’s alarm at 7am and leaving Kibaha in an hour. After a quick basic breakfast of fresh bread and masala chai, we were off, taking last group photos outside the memorable white house. Emotions were running high.

Our first stop was a disability school. We visited a hall full of students, and our translator informed us of their genuine and heartfelt appreciation for our visit – this is before we even distributed the food parcels. A young student struggled to walk to the front of the room and began to recite a powerful prayer of appreciation, it was one of the most difficult things I had to witness during this trip. Despite reciting in Swahili and being unable to fully understand his words, the young boy’s passion and expression broke my heart. Struggling to maintain my emotions, for the first time in my life I saw, firsthand and close up – something so broken yet so beautiful.

After distributing fruit and bread to the students at the disability school we drove another half an hour to visit a blind school, where we served the students food and water. A young woman recited a melodious Swahili poem, the love and humbleness within the room was incredible. After a long and intense day of visiting the schools we made our way back to Auzmah, our group leader’s house. Her family treated us as their own, feeling at ease and relaxed I was able to truly reflect on what I’d seen in the last week – our volunteering was officially over and we all felt a little uneasy about what we had just experienced. The group was down, but looking forward to having sometime to continue to reflect and relax on a emotionally and physically demanding week.

We were amazed with the resort we stayed at in Kuduchi, and as Brits the first sign of white sand and blue sea saw us running in glee to the beach, laughing and enjoying ourselves I realised I had really found a new family of sisters. Kibaha had been good to us, as volunteers we had also gained so much, from new experiences to life skills. Recalling the group’s first meeting in Milton Keynes, our aims were to give the children new experiences, to make them happy and to give them something to remember. I hope and pray that the smiles, giggling and the tearful goodbyes of the children reflected that.


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