2020/8/4 - Acceptance

By Doha Nassar

“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” – Unknown

I've wrestled with this quote numerous times; because although I understand it and agree with it, it’s not a truth that’s easy to swallow. Many times, we come across people we adore, who mean the world to us, but then these people leave as quickly as they first appeared. And you are left wondering if any of it was real – that friendship, the memories, the adventures you went on. You are left asking yourself – did I misread the signs? How could I have been so wrong? But the truth is that every relationship in our life lies within the words of the quote above. Nothing is by accident. The people in our lives were placed there with purpose and intention. We may not understand it at first and we may not like it, but we must accept it.

As Allah (swt) says in the Quran, in surah Al-Anfal:

And if you had promised to meet, you would have missed the timing, but indeed so Allah can accomplish an already ordained matter.” [8:42]

Acceptance is a life's journey. Learn from the situation and keep moving forward. Photography by Patrick Fore.

No matter how much we plan, Allah (swt) has already ordained the various events in our lives. What is meant for us will always find us, and what is not meant for us can never reach us. Regardless of our plans and the plans of others, Allah (swt) is the best of planners and no one can change His Qadar, so we are then left to accept it, learn from it, and keep moving forward.

Acceptance is an essential concept for us to grasp. It is the first step in the recovery process for addiction, among the most important concepts discussed in therapy and the key to achieving a peaceful state of mind. According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, low self-acceptance affects our psychological well-being and beneficial interventions become less effective than if someone had a higher sense of self-acceptance (Pillay 2016). Acceptance of a situation allows us to reflect and find purpose behind the occurrence. We can find lessons and value from the situation to take forward with us.

But most importantly, acceptance is rooted in the Islamic concept of Tawakkul, or trust in Allah (God). Tawakkul is a heavy concept. It is not something that happens overnight, but rather it is a life’s journey. As human beings, we fear the unknown. We do not like that which we can not control. Therefore, the idea of accepting anything that comes our way, with open arms, is rooted in deep skepticism.

However, when we recognize that everything that happens in our lives is because of Allah’s will; we relinquish that fear. When we increase our remembrance of Allah (swt) and recognize that nothing is greater than Him, that He is Al-Kabeer – the Most Great – we can truly begin to grasp the magnitude of Allah (swt). Everything around us came from Him. The birds, the trees, the people in our lives – all came from Him. Allah (swt) is As-Samee’ and Al-Baseer, the All-Hearing and the All-Seeing. He knows that which is in our hearts. He hears us without our utterance of a single word. He sees every action, regardless of how hidden or minuscule. So how then can we question the events that took place in our lives? We need to keep the attitude of:

“Indeed with me is my Lord, He will guide me.” [26:62]

I know this is not an easy task. As mentioned before, it is a life’s journey. Something that we will constantly work toward. Some days will be easier than others, but on the day that you sit back and wonder “why”, reflect on the creator. Reflect on the hidden message within that situation. Some people were meant to come into your life for a brief visit. Once they have fulfilled their purpose, they will continue on their way. Some people will stay a little longer; maybe their purpose was to help guide you through a life situation – pull you out when you felt despair or teach you critical life skills. And some people were meant to walk alongside you, there for every up and down- a constant that reminds you of your purpose. Regardless of who these people are and how long they have stayed in your life, always remember they flowed in and out because of Allah’s will. He brought them into your life for a reason, so reflect on it, cherish it, and learn to accept it. Only then will you truly feel at peace.

“Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are reassured.” [13:28].


Quran, Chapter Al-Anfal (8), parable 42

Quran, Chapter Ah-Shu’ara (26), parable 62

Quran, Chapter Ar-Ra’d (13), parable 28

Pillay, S. (2020, June 24). Greater self-acceptance improves emotional well-being. Harvard Health Blog.

2020/6/23 - 4 Ways to Control Your Fears

By Doha Nassar

A friend of mine used to say “Fear is not real. It is an illusion that we make up in our heads.” And in response I would shake my head, unable to fathom this philosophy. For how could something that feels so real be nothing more than an illusion? And if fear is not real, does that also mean that hope, love, and courage do not exist?

After much debate, we came to the agreement that fear may not be tangible, but the concept of fear exists. We decided that fear was a choice. You can choose to be afraid of the spider, or you can choose to take a deep breath and tell yourself that the tiny little creature will do no harm. Now the question is not whether fear is real (that will still be an ongoing debate), rather it is whether we will let fear control us.

When our fears are not in check, we risk decreasing our confidence, avoiding accomplishments/ reaching our highest potential, and even affecting our mental health. Below are four reminders to help you escape the grips of fear.

1. Tawakkul – Trust in Allah (SWT)

Tawakkul is our complete trust in Allah (SWT). Sheikh Yasir Qadi describes it as a psychological frame of mind, a spiritual belief of the heart (Memphis Islamic Center, 2017). Tawakkul does not change what we do, but it changes how we feel – how we view the world around us. When we are in a state of Tawakkul we are in a state of peace. We are relying completely on Allah (SWT) to guide and protect us. One of the 99 names of Allah is “Al-Mawla”, The Protector. When we have that trust and belief that Allah (SWT), the one who protects us, who created us, who provides for us, is watching over us – then why should we worry? Why should we give in to the fear?

However, having Tawakkul in Allah (SWT) does not mean that we sit around and do nothing. We must still take initiative and prepare ourselves for our goals and endeavours. If we want to get a job, we need to go to school and get a degree. We need to practice and prepare for the job interviews. For the sahabah still prepared for battle even though they knew that Allah (SWT) was on their side. We still need to put in the effort, but we should not fear. For Allah (SWT) is the only one who can decree.

In Surah At-Talaq Ayah 3, Allah (Swt) says:

وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ

Meaning “Whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him” [65:3]. When we put our complete trust in Allah, then Allah (SWT) will be enough for us.

2. Maintain Positive Energy

One of my favorite equations comes from Jon Gordon’s book The Energy Bus.

E + P = O

Events + Perception = Outcomes. We cannot control the events in our life. But we can control our perception. When we perceive an event through a positive lens, our outcome will be positive. When we perceive an event through a negative lens, our outcome will be negative.

Maintaining a positive outlook is the key to moving forward. If we constantly look at the negatives, we find ourselves in a downward spiral, unable to find an escape. Positivity allows us to look to the light as guidance; as a way of understanding how we can move forward when faced with challenges. Staying stuck with a negative mindset results in anxiety and fear. To face our fears we need clear, rational thought. We need to remind ourselves to be gentle with ourselves, to take a break and recharge. We cannot move forward with our goals and plans if we are not thinking clearly.

Therefore, it is essential that we use various techniques to reduce stress and maintain positive energy. Whether it be running, meditating, spending time in nature, or simply reflecting on the gifts that Allah (SWT) has provided us; we must find a way to absolve the negativity in our life.

3. Connect with the Quran

Connecting with the Quran is a way to connect with Allah (SWT). The Quran is not a regular book that was written by people. It is kalaam Allah, the words of Allah (SWT), and therefore has some divine attributes. When we handle the Quran we must be in a state of wudu, or purification. We treat the Quran with respect and care – thus indicating its magnitude and significance. There is no book that can ever match the power and healing of the Quran. You can read all the self-care books you want, but none can reach your heart in the same way as the Quran. For who can heal your heart best than the one who created it in the first place?

Through the Quran we experience guidance and peace. Reciting the Quran when we are stressed, tense, or afraid, puts our heart at ease. We feel a sense of calm. We can reflect and gain clarity. In Surah Ra’ad, Ayah 28, Allah (SWT) says:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

Meaning:””Those who believe and find peace in their hearts from the contemplation of God: Surely there is peace of heart in the contemplation of God!” [13:28]. No matter the situation we are in, no matter the questions or struggle, we will find answers in the Quran.

This past Ramadan, Sheikh Omar Suliman said something that really stuck with me. He said, it doesn’t matter if you listen to Yaqeen’s Quran 30 for 30, and then go listen to Qalam’s Quran reflections, and then listen to another Sheikh – you will learn something new from each program. Because each time you read the Quran, you can reflect on something new, you can gain some new insight. Each time we read the Quran it touches our lives in a new way. You can never be finished with the Quran, it always offers something new.

4. Remember that fear is from Shaytan

Shaytan’s goal is to drive us away from Allah (swt). One of his tactics is to instill fear and worry within us.

إِنَّمَا ذَلِكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ يُخَوِّفُ أَوْلِيَاءهُ فَلاَ تَخَافُوهُمْ وَخَافُونِ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

Meaning: It is but Satan who instills fear of his allies into you, so do not fear them, but instead fear disappointing [Allah] if you are truly believers [3:175]

Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that we are not good enough to ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness from our sins; or we think of the worst case scenario in various situations. These thoughts that cloud our rational mind are likely the whispers of Shaytan. Again, as mentioned earlier, it is important to have complete Tawakkul that Allah (SWT) will guide and protect us. Allah (SWT) is the Most Merciful. Regardless of how many times we may sin, when we turn to Him and sincerely ask for forgiveness, He will not turn his back on us.

Whether you believe fear is real or just a figment of your imagination; you must learn to control fear so that it does not control you. When you let fear dictate your decisions, you will only live to regret. Fear is our perception and understanding of outcomes. Some fear is useful and good, like the fear from dangers and the fear of Allah’s disappointment. However, a majority of the fear we experience on a daily basis is rooted in situations and experiences within our control. By maintaining our relationship with Allah (SWT) and establishing positive routines in our lives, we can take back control of our fears.


Gordon, J. (2010). The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

How to Deal with Fear and Anxiety. (2016). Retrieved from

Memphis Islamic Center (MIC). (2017, Jun 9). Quranic Pearls pt.13 – Tawakkul (Reliance & Trust) in Allah | At-Tawbah v.51 | Dr. Sh. Yasir Qadhi [Video].

2020/6/8 - Are you making SMART goals?

By Doha Nassar

Many people set goals, work hard, and yet still struggle to accomplish what they set out to do. Why is that? Research indicates that youth, who, in their formative fall short of or completely abandon one or more aspirations, can end up in a pattern of lowering expectations, coming short, and losing the will power to set goals again. If left unaddressed, this problem can plague youth well into their adult years and beyond.

In their book The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning, Anne Conzemius and Jan O’Neill centered their ideas around developing successful plans for students’ academic progress. They used the acronym SMART to describe their goal attainment process. Let’s walk through this process and illustrate it using the example of improving one’s energy.

What does SMART stand for?

S- Specific

As you set your goal, you want to focus on just a few challenges at time; and select a specific goal that aligns with your current lifestyle. This will allow you to maximize your results and outline your expectations. For example, if your overall goal is to have more energy throughout the day, a “strategic and specific” approach can include increasing your cardio activity.

M- Measurable

Measurable goals help you track your progress toward goal completion and allow you to adjust your actions as you move forward. If you decide to increase your cardio activity, you might choose to jog daily for 20 minutes. Setting this measurable expectation, holds you accountable in successfully accomplishing your goal.

A- Attainable

Your goals need to feel within reach. If you set a goal too low, you won’t feel a sense of satisfaction for accomplishing it. And if you set a goal too high, you will feel overwhelmed and will end up quitting before you reach the finish line. If you haven’t jogged before, an attainable route can consist of starting with walk/jog intervals (such as 2 minutes walking/30 secs jogging).

R- Result driven

Result driven goals are motivating and provide a sense of accomplishment upon completion. When you set benchmarks for yourself, you are more likely to strive to reach your goals. In our jogging example, result driven data can be as simple as adding 5 minutes each week until you can comfortably execute continuous activity for 30, 45, 60 minutes straight without needing to break.

T- Time bound

This is the most critical aspect of goal setting. If you don’t have a time frame in mind, you will continue to put off your goal; resulting in either never starting or never finishing your goal. For example, if you are trying to jog continuously for 20 minutes, you might decide that you want to achieve that goal within 4 months, or 6 months. Whatever the time frame, setting a goal end date holds you accountable and keeps you motivated in pursuing your goal.


In summary, successful goal completion requires a plan of action and integration into one’s current lifestyle. Creating specific goals that align with your routines allow you to maintain focus and motivation. SMART is a framework that supports the creation of achievable goals. However, the true key to success lies in one’s ability to transform their life through the incorporation of their goals. When your goal is integrated into your life, it becomes a habit; thus maximizing its impact in revolutionizing your day to day activity.


Conzemius, Anne, and Jan O’Neill. The Power of SMART Goals – Amazon Web Services.

“How Goal Setting Can Do More Harm Than Good.” Ray Williams, 10 Oct. 2019,

2015/10/23 - Teens Against Divorce

Quite often we get a call from a teenager in our community, worried about the parent's getting divorced. The call goes like this ...

"I am worried, my mom and dad stopped talking for months and they don't like each other anymore. I am scared that they might divorce."

It happened many times before, and will happen again. The good news, is that these same teens have become empowered rather than scared. They are not only coached into how to deal with the emotions and distractions a divorce can bring to their life, but also they become ambassadors of unity.

Many of our teens have become coaches themselves to their own parents while they are being coached on achieving a big goal in their life. Keeping their parents together on the taqwa of Allah (swt); and if life is impossible to have them separate on His taqwa.

2015/10/23 - EmpowerOne @ Maryum Islamic Center

With the grace of Allah Maryum Islamic Center is now offering EmpowerOne Coaching through a strategic partnership with EmpowerOne. Coaches from EmpowerOne are available at Maryum center by appointment to meet with parents or youth who would like to build a goal-attainment plan.

2015/3/3 - Ahmed Changed His Life

Blocking off good influence at 14, removed from school at 16, locked up in jail at 19, released at 21, Ahmed has some rough times. His language changed, his manners changed, his mindset changed, he became a different creature by 19 than he was known to others at 14. Five years of rebellion brought his life to a very low point, where he almost lost his life.

Over a few weeks Ahmed realized that life has a different meaning and that it is worth transforming himself …

2015/3/1 - Does Snow Empower and Inspire You?