DIY Milad

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Today, perhaps for the first time, I had a little milad gathering with my kid. I miss those milad gatherings in Lahore. At the time, we had to sit silently and were told what to do when, but the first – the very first time, a milad hit me, was when I was about fifteen years old. I was reciting naats in a school milad. And suddenly, while reciting the final salam, I found the earth unsteady below my feet, and a stream of tears gushing down my face. I didn’t understand what was happening.

For our little home milad, I found a couple of videos. I wanted to start with Zammilooni because it connected us with Mother Khadija (radiallah anha) and the love of the Prophet for her. Then we listened to ya Nabi salam alayka, a sweet video that reminds us of devotions in the middle of the mundane, and the gift of salawat.

Then I did a recitation of Ya Nabi salam alayka with my daughter, as we stood to honor him. Then we recited some surahs for the Prophet, especially al-Kauther, and talked about it as a gift in his presence.

We listened to Umme Habiba’s گل از رخت آموختہ with the English translation. Then we talked about the metaphorical and lyrical language in Jami’s naat: how the love for the Prophet is often expressed in language about nightingales, ruby lips, cypresses, and eyebrows. We talked about how metaphors express profound spiritual realities and love that people can easily grasp.

We went on to talk about how Sufis often described spiritual experiences and the Sufi path in these metaphors and codes. And we left it there, opening up a path that she can explore later if she wishes.


impromptu devotions and a pandemic prayer

My heart was overcome this evening after maghrib namaz. I also know my kid has been struggling with the pandemic and this artificial strange loneliness. So I gathered my spouse and kid for a Thursday evening zikr session. Turned off the lights and sat on the rug. I led them in Chishti-style zikr, like my pir used to:

First, because it’s Friday, durood for the Prophet.

Forgive us our sins, our mistakes, our forgetfulness; You forgive all sins, You cover all sins with mercy, not because we deserve it but because You are Compassionate. Then many times: استغفر الله (I ask Allah’s pardon)
You are our Cherisher, our Sustainer, caring for our every need, before we even realize we need something, You grant it Then many times: ربنا الله (Allah is our Sustainer)

You are enough for us; in all our troubles and trials, we don’t have the power to overcome them, but You do. And we put all our faith in You. Then many times: حسبنا الله (Allah is Sufficient for us)
Then many times: لا الہٰ الا الله (there is no god but Allah)

Then we sat, and I led a prayer:

O Allah, thank You for allowing us the memory, the hearts, the time to sit and remember You. Please always grant us the the memory, the hearts, the time to remember You always.

Allah, we are really struggling. This is a really hard time. We really want to get back to normal, to better times, so we can do normal things, go out and see people, live life properly and not be so alone.

Lots of people are struggling. Lots of people have died in this pandemic. Grant them all paradise. Grant patience and comfort to their loved ones.

This is a terrible pandemic, and we want to see it ended. We don’t have the power to do it, and we are so tired of it. But You can end it. You created it. Please end it. Help the people who are suffering from it. Grant a cure.

Lots of people want to work so they can pay for food and housing. Please help them all. We’re all so scared and sad. Please help us, take us out of this time.

We’re also scared about the election. This man and his government are hateful and they are killing people. We’re scared. Please let them be defeated, and take power away from them. We’re putting all our faith in You. Help us.

We all cried a little.