Thoughts, Uncategorized

Happily Ever After

Last night, my husband and I attended our first wedding together. It was a beautiful event and my first experience at an Asian wedding. There were so many little moments that took me back to the night of our own nikkah ceremony. We didn’t even have much of a wedding really; it was simple, held at his cousin’s house and only family were present. But it was perfect. I just remember the feeling of sitting beside the love of my life and feeling such excitement and love for him. The love that emanated from both of us was the best part of the entire thing. Seeing the love and happiness that radiated from the beautiful couple last night reminded me of that.

Once we had sat down at our table and had a chance to take in the atmosphere, my husband asked me if I would have an event similar to this one if I could go back and change what we did. It was such a beautiful venue, the decorations were tasteful, the bride’s outfit was stunning. It would be such a fun (even if it was stressful) experience but the work and money involved are a big factor that would turn me away from that kind of celebration (call it laziness if you want). I can honestly say that I would still choose to recreate every single detail from our original wedding. It was by no means extravagant, I wasn’t wearing my dream dress, my husband ordered his suit off of ASOS, my family couldn’t be there, and we didn’t have a grand banquet and loads of guests but it was perfect. And in all reality it reflected who we are and our values. Just as our friend’s wedding last night was perfect for them and reflected their personalities. We didn’t really set out to plan something simple, we just wanted to get married. At the time, I was in school and we were living 4,000 miles away from each other. I was unable to work and so had very little money at the time to put towards a ceremony. But the result was something really beautiful to both of us. It was like that feeling of getting your first tiny apartment and eating cold pasta on top of a cardboard box because you have no furniture. It’s not something you think you want but it ends up being one of your fondest memories.

I loved that the night was somewhat relaxed and that we actually got to enjoy ourselves. I loved that my husbands cousins love him enough and were so generous to not only offer their house for the venue, but to also plan out the entire night and provide food and gifts. I loved the 4 hour hour ordeal that was finding my dress only the day before. Traipsing through Southall for an entire afternoon trying to find a decently pretty dress for under 100 pound makes for one of my favourite stories from that trip. Keep in mind that this was my first time in London, I had never haggled before in my life, and my husband wasn’t accustomed to purchasing women’s suits so he wasn’t too practiced in haggling either. Needless to say, my mother-in-law still thought the 60 pound we paid was too much and took it upon herself to come with us when we went shopping for the dress for my walimah.

All this to say that a wedding, especially an Islamic one, is about uniting with your life partner, the person you love most and following the sunnah. I love that my wedding was simple with no frills because the sole focus was on our love for each other and worshiping Allah (SWT) through this union. I definitely wasn’t marrying him just to have a big, special day so there were no blinders over my intentions, alhamdulillah. And even now, we’ve kept to our tradition of keeping things simple and we are so happy because of it. The Prophet (SAW) even said that the best weddings are those with the least expense and hassle. These events should be happy times for both the guests and the newlyweds. Everyone should get a chance to chat to each other, share stories, take photos, eat good food, and make wonderful memories. After it’s all said and done, what matters and what is real is your new marriage. Finding the perfect dress (one that you will only wear once) won’t matter, planning the perfect menu won’t matter, no one can really tell the difference between professional makeup and makeup you’ve done yourself, most of the guests only come for a free meal, and most of the pictures will stay hidden away in an album on your phone.

In this day of showing off for social media, it is so easy to get distracted from what is real and permanent. Instead, let’s focus on our significant others and focus on having a happy, healthy, and loving relationship. You can have a big wedding if you wish or you can have a small one. It’s about the two of you and what you value There’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as you you do it in a way that honours Allah (SWT). If you can look at one another with so much love and pure intention like the beautiful couple did last night, you’ll be just fine.

Thank you,

Nahlah

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Adopting a Minimalist Lifestyle

From my guest post on Hijabies Hood.

Minimalism has always had a special place in my heart. I first came across the idea while watching a bubbly YouTube video on capsule wardrobes. At first glance, minimalism was chic. It was neutral colors, clean lines, and a tally of possessions that could be counted on one hand. I loved it! I remember donating bags and bags of clothes, leaving only my most worn items hanging in the closet: it didn’t amount to much and consisted of only the color black. I remember the feelings of calm and relief that swept over me as I sorted through books, old school papers, jewelry, and useless little decorations. After the massive overhaul was compete, my room looked much like those one could find on a dream house Pinterest board.  

What I found during my little “journey” was that minimalism was so much more than a seasonal capsule wardrobe. It was and still is a freedom from possessions and mindless waste. It is a rejection of what corporations push in our faces. In this modern age we have slowly taken on more gods without realizing it: stuff. We chase after possessions and glorify those who have what we don’t. I had become disillusioned with it all as many of us often do and I was seeking more. I saw minimalism as a mindset that shifted my focus onto values, learning, experiences, and connection. Before I came to Islam, being a self-proclaimed minimalist made me feel like I was partially fulfilled. I was focused on things that were adding value to my life rather than taking away but it wasn’t quite enough. It wasn’t until after I reverted that I felt completely fulfilled and found even more reasons to continue on in this lifestyle. And it all started with this hadith:

“On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (RA), who said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) took me by the shoulder and said, “Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveler along a path.”

Perhaps I am a little biased because I love traveling, but I really connected with these instructions. I see living this way to mean that you only possess what is necessary and convenient, you experience many different cultures, you wonder at Allah’s (SWT) creation, you meet amazing people, you value your time, you work hard, you abstain from excess so that your journey will not be hindered, you are always learning, and you are always ready to pick up and go if Allah (SWT) calls you somewhere else.

The Muslim lifestyle, in general, is one that embraces moderation and simplicity. We are instructed to only eat what is needed, live as travelers, abstain from excess spending on weddings, not to flaunt beauty or wealth in public, and use our money for good (giving zakat). Not only is this way of living good for our health and bank accounts, but it is wonderful for our faith. When we are not so focused on the show and the stuff, we are more focused on Allah (SWT) and living as He has instructed us to.

Minimalism doesn’t have to look like it does on Pinterest or in the apartment tour videos on YouTube. Most of us have families/roommates or we have hobbies/careers that require us to keep certain things, or we just really love throw pillows. What matters is that we live lives that are in alignment with how Allah (SWT) wants us to live. This means that we must live with the awareness of our time, money, actions, words, and health. On the Day of Judgement we will be asked five questions: It was narrated from Ibn Mas’ood (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The son of Adam will not be dismissed from before his Lord on the Day of Resurrection until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it, his wealth and how he earned it and how he disposed of it, and how he acted upon what he acquired of knowledge.”

I believe that if we live in a way in which we will be able to answer these questions with little to no regrets, we will not only be happier then but happier in this life as well.

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