Appeal for Orphans and Child Welfare in Iraq

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Today, I would like to urge my blog readers to please visit my personal fundraiser – set up for the children of Iraq, supported by one of my favorite charities.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/shaistajafri

In the month of Ramadan, with so many charities available, it is often times a tough task to choose which ones to support.  I chose this because I have seen The Zahra Trust at work when I visited Iraq in December 2017.  A non-profit in its true spirit, I am inspired by their relentless support to serve the orphans and the needy.

Humanitarian crisis affects children the worst and leave them exposed and vulnerable. These children need our compassion and love;  your small contribution goes a long way and can build a secure life for a child.  Please help this campaign which will contribute directly to The Zahra Trust’s call for orphans support and child welfare in Iraq. I am also a team member with Sayed Ammar Nakshwani who is a goodwill ambassador for The Zahra Trust and has launched an Appeal for the same cause. https://www.justgiving.com/teams/san

You can learn more about The Zahra Trust’s ongoing projects and what they did last year on this link:

https://www.zahratrust.com/annualreport

If you would like to support any cause this year – let this one be your choice!

Thank you! Your reward is with Allah.

Karbala is Love

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Earlier this week, a dear sister asked me how I felt when I went to Karbala. I thought long and hard. I have not had a chance to pen my thoughts since I returned from Karbala this January with a fantastic group of people, organized by Spiritual Journeys. More on the group later in another blog post. They definitely deserve a dedicated applause.

Back to the question. It is really hard to state the exact feelings because only when one actually goes there – is when one can truly appreciate the magnitude of this love and devotion. To put it simply, and for lack of a better analogy, it is like going to visit a loved one after many many years. You plan to ask so many questions, even complain for lack of contact but when you finally meet your loved one, time stops and you forget all your pain. All you remember is just how much you really love them and how much you have missed not being with them! Thats how I felt, when we walked by foot and entered the city of Karbala. As i stood in front of the majestic Roza of Imam Hussain, Labbaik Ya Hussain it was. I forgot all my petty worldly needs and tasks. All i wanted to do was to stand there, respectfully and with all my heart tell Imam Hussain how much I love him. And I could only hope he would believe me. Imam Hussain’s roza is kindness personified. Karbala is love. Najaf was grand and I was in awe most of the time as I had always wanted to go to Najaf. I never knew that it would be Karbala that would shake me to the core.

Gratitude is all I have, for Allah to make it so easy for me to visit the blessed land. I cannot wait to go back again! Labbaik Ya Hussain!

RIP Dina

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What’s yours will find you, said Imam Ali. Sad that meeting Dina was never meant to be – despite a few attempts I made to reach out to her. Today I learn Dina passed away, at 98.

RIP Dina, daughter of your beloved Grey wolf. May you rest in eternal peace.

One day, I hope I collect all my thoughts and write about you and your mother. You two are sadly the neglected part of our history. Rest In Peace.

pier

What If

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What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
You dreamed
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in your hand
Ah, what then?

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Tao of Forty

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On April 22 this year, I turn forty – a milestone I have been looking forward to since last year! I always thought of forty as just a number, well a far off number when you are just in your twenties. As you come face-to-face with the famous Forty, turns out, it is pretty much a school of thought and a state of being!

Being forty is so liberating. Forty is solemn about the days ahead, yet grateful for all life has thrown their way – lessons, challenges and success all inclusive!

Forty has answered many questions for me and as my favorite saying goes, it has given me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

However as I once read somewhere, being forty is also like being a Panini sandwich– you may be the juiciest, richest part but you are still stuck between generations! Your children are growing up fast (Mommy of a 15 and a 9 year old thank you very much) and you see your parents aging too. You are definitely in the thick of all of life’s happenings not to mention your career too. Best of luck is all I can say! You will be needing it, rest assured.

A Forty’s playlist may range from Air Supply and swings onto Ed Sheeran. Forty will rock a Sufi qawwali any day. Forty will never understand how in the world Chance the rapper earned the Grammy for his songs, but will be sporty enough to bear the songs for the sake of their teenagers. Patience is a virtue you finally rock at forty.

Forty is about cherishing friendships, and cutting out the riff-raff from one’s life. Forty says things in your face, and has no qualms in accepting the truth! Forty will remember fond details with perfect accuracy from childhood, but will struggle locating their cell phone which they actually put in their handbag two minutes ago.

Forty knows that as they tab browse their way through this ever-fast paced life – they must remember to juggle their balls and that it is okay to drop a few of them. As long as they keep juggling the glass balls, never mind a few rubber balls they miss.

The more I think about the Tao of Forty, the more I begin to love it. I am ready to embrace my Forties and already look forward to what is next. Forty is cool. Be like Forty!

Finding that ‘Extra’ in the Ordinary

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I often think about why is it that the beginning of the year is always much more pleasant and relaxing than the rest of the year.  Most of us start the new year with a lot of work, planning the year ahead requires creativity and dedication. But why is it that the beginning is always far better, people you meet are happier; some even have that extra skip in their walk.  Come November, it is such a ‘Thursday’ of the year, with all of us barely surviving and looking forward to the year’s end already.

A well-rested mind my friends is what makes us happy.  A happy heart is what makes us be ambitious about how we will work throughout the rest of the year.  Rest is not just in terms of returning from a long home leave.  Rest is being at peace with one’s own self.

This year, whatever is left of it anyways – can we all try and not greet each other with ‘So how are you – busy?’ I often find this statement very amusing – the person asking the question always assumes that on your behalf already, with the risk that if you dare say you are not busy actually, might be held against you.  So let’s try this again today, ‘How are you?’ *insert pause* let’s allow the other person to come up with their own update.  Great social experiment I tell you, and no, you are not allowed to answer with ‘busy’.  Let’s dig out other nice adjectives!

As part of the ADB cohort taking this Breakthrough leadership course this year, if there is one take away for me it is this: Find that ‘Extra’ in the Ordinary around us.  As we push the mundane life of going about our business – let us all stay positive.  Let us be a kind mentor to those working in our teams, and a supportive aide to those leading us. It is not always possible to find one’s ideal and interests in our work or personal life but let us all try and make the best of what we are given.   Instead of complaining about the bureaucracy within the institution, or the complexities of managing relationships – let’s reflect on how we can be a better version of our own selves.  Let us all be more people-oriented, be courteous at the minimum to each other, and if we can manage to keep a smile on our face despite the workload, then to me, we stand as a winner in this year’s run!