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Assalaam 'alaikum!

The June 2019 writing submissions on Global Muslim Writers is now over. The two short-listed contestants have been chosen and it's now time for you to choose the winner!

To vote, please read both stories before making an unbias decision based on how well the story was written, how well it flows, then the depth of the story itself.

To all those who submitted and were not short-listed, know that you can always re-submit your story on the next competition as long as the story remains original and unpublished.

This month's contest was the toughest one so far!
All the submitted stories were well written, heart-warming, inspiring, and eye-catching.
Deciding on the short-listed contestants was indeed very difficult.

But, it's not done.
The rest is up to you!

And now, the two short-listed writing contestants for the month of
June 2019 are:

Nida Shahzeb - Story Titled 'Cleansed'

and

Abigail Trumbo - Story Titled 'The Maher'

Please show your support to our contestants by clicking on the title of each story above, read the story, then vote for the best.

Voting will be opened from July 3rd, 2019 - July 5th, 2019 at 11:00 GMT

Please vote for only one contestant; only one time.

Jazakum Allahu khayr!

Results



Vote Below


The Best Short-Story of June 2019 is...

Cleansed
The Maher
Created with QuizMaker


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Snowflakes spattered on the windows of the small apartment, but the living room was warm with
lamplight and the deep, rich, woodsy fragrance of oud.  I sat on one end of the big grey sectional beside
my friend and now sister Hasna – the same one who had sat beside me in the mosque three months
ago when I recited the statement of faith “there is no god except Allah, and Mohammed is His
messenger.” 

Her black eyes sparkled just as much now and she exuded radiant even though she was entirely covered
in a dark blue khimar and a niqab. I could still hardly believe that I was here now, my hands decorated
with dark brown henna as Hasna insisted Yemeni brides’ always were, my own head and face covered
with a gold-threaded veil that had been her mother’s. 

I had been an entirely different person just a season ago, but as I looked across the room at Hasna’s
older brother and the small group of men with him, I felt at home in a strange way almost like déjà vu.
Never in my life had I been so peaceful; never in my life had I felt so clear, so light, or so sure of what I was doing.  

The imam cleared his throat to shush the little group, and he spoke without looking up from the legal
binder spread out on the coffee table.  “The last question I have,” he stated to the room as a whole,
“is about the maher. Has the bride stipulated an amount?” He held a pen, poised, above the pages of
the nikah.  

Hasna glanced at me, and I shook my head at her.  “I didn’t set a sum,” I whispered.  
“Ask. Anything you want, ask,” she answered.  “My brother must give it to you to make the marriage
official.”  

I hesitated, but the idea of asking for money seemed strange to me.  Hasna and her family were my
family now and had been like one through the hardest time of my life when my own relatives shut me
out and my mother walked away from me in tears.  Hasna had taught me to pray; she had suggested my
marriage to her brother so that I would never again fear abandonment. How could I ask more than that?  

I looked up and met Hasna’s steady gaze firmly.  “Have your brother give me whatever he thinks is right,”
I answered at last.  “I’m content.”  

The men on the other side of the room said something in Arabic, sounding surprised, but I could hear the
smiles in their tone too.  Then Bilal spoke to the imam.  
“I’m not rich, and I have almost nothing of my own to give. I only have seventy-five dollars left over from
the rent payment, but it is hers right now.”  

The imam noted the amount in the contract, and then he paused.  “Normally we simply continue,” he
said to the room in general, “but I want to speak about this agreement. Our Prophet, peace be upon
him, stated that the best marriage was the one made easy, and the best maher is the one reduced. If any
of you ever feel doubt about this union or question each other, remember this moment. Your wife’s
request is a kind of purity that we do not see enough of these days. Treasure this, both of you, and may
Allah reward you for the modesty and love you both demonstrated today with a joyful marriage.”  

We were married for ten years and had three beautiful boys.  My husband worked long hours, and it was
difficult for me to adjust to being a stay-at-home wife as he requested.  My hands became rough and
scarred from housework, and I became heavier from having three children. But we pressed on.  I never
forgot what my husband, or his family, had done for me, and I always noticed how Bilal gave up his own
self interest for us.  I watched him play with his babies, talk to his sons, and I loved him more and more
as time went on.  

Finally, my husband was promoted to a managerial position, and this happened just before Ramadan. 
We were all thrilled; he brought presents for the children, perfume and earrings for me, jewelry for
Hasna (who lived in the apartment just below ours), and laughed with a kind of happiness I hadn’t seen
in a long time.  The feeling of relief was palpable in our home that night, and when I went to bed, I felt
like a load had slipped off my shoulders. Finally, finally, we could have a good life with our family. We
might not be rich, but that wasn’t what I wanted.  It was enough to have this kind of happiness and to
hear my son’s excited whispers in the other room. It was more than enough.  

On the morning of Eid I prepared breakfast after fajr, instead of before, and waited for my husband to
return from the mosque.  The clock ticked on and my sons chased each other through the narrow halls.
I set out a platter of hot bread and stirred the last of the spicy oat soup on the stove.  Where could Bilal
be? It wasn’t like him to take so long coming back from prayer. The sunshine was turning brilliant at the
windows, and a sick feeling twisted in my stomach.  Could something have happened to him?  

I was making dua when I heard his key in the front door. 
“Baba!” Abdulrahman shouted.  He and Omar charged into the living room, somehow managing to
sound like an entire herd of horses, and two-year-old Ibrahim toddled behind them.  I forgot myself and
dropped the spoon in the sink in my haste to join them and find out what had happened to Bilal.  

Alhamdulilah, I thought when I saw him in the entryway.  His face shone and he had a son under either
arm, tousling like they always did.  But when he saw me, he pushed them back, kissed each boy on the
top of his head, and came straight to me.  
“Eid Mubarak,” he greeted me.  “I have something to tell you.”  

To my astonishment, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a tiny red box.  “It’s been ten years,”
he said. “For ten years I’ve had you at my side and known that, no matter what, you were there for me.
Even if you didn’t have answers, you listened to me and told me to hope. You carried three incredible
children and you have raised them dedicatedly and lovingly. Even in the hardest times, you struggled on
and gave to us everything you could. And I always, always think about the day you gave me the greatest
gift – when you trusted and loved me enough to say, in front of Allah and everyone, that I was enough
for you. I can’t tell you how completely that captured my heart or how it has made me feel about you all
this time, even when we were angry or over-tired or just too busy. And I have always, always wanted to
give you something better than we began our marriage with.”  

I gasped when he opened the box and placed it in my hand.  It was a triple-layered silver ring; tiny
crystals along the bands caught the sunlight and flashed sparkling white.  But it was the writing inside
that caught my attention the most, and carefully – almost afraid to touch the beautiful wedding ring –
I lifted it and squinted at the Arabic letters.  
Abdulrahman
Omar
Ibrahim 

“I’ve been saving for ten years,” my husband told me, as the boys came to my side and looked anxiously
into my face.  
“We were in on it!” Abdulrahman shouted.  He pulled my hand for attention, looking anxious and
important at the same time.  “Baba told us last summer and we went with him to the store and told
them to put our names on it. I told them how to spell it.”  

I could feel myself shaking all over from shock and an overwhelming kind of happiness.  How silly I could
have felt, standing there with my hair in plain braids, in ratty old jeans and a striped t-shirt, and this
beautiful jewel in my hands.  But instead, I looked up at Bilal as he slipped the ring onto my finger, and
his eyes were so full of love and admiration that I forgot anything like self-consciousness.  The boys
laughed triumphantly at the joy on both our faces and I reached out to pull them all close in a tight hug.  

People used to tell me I had lost everything by becoming Muslim: family, identity, freedom, and respect. 
But the truth is that I never really understood what any of those were until I became a Muslim and
married Bilal.  And on that day, I felt like not a single one of those words was adequate for what we all
shared together.
____________________________________

Abigail Trumbo
Country: USA
June 2019 Writing Contest

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"I still have a lot of issues with my skin. The ugliness is glaringly obvious", said Sara.

Maira peered closer to examine. She saw active acne, scars and other entities usually accused and hated for trespassing on skin.

"Don't worry. You have young, vibrant skin! These treatments will help! I already see a difference from when you came last time." 

"I know but I've been so depressed. I don't want to look at the mirror." 
Maira smiled. She always smiled when people casually threw around this word.
She decided to change the conversation as she applied cleansing lotion on Sara's face. Nice and subtle.. rotating upward movements. ‘Kind of like how life should be lived,’ Maira always thought to herself. 

"So what have you been eating? Fresh vegetables, fruits, more water? 
"I just don't have the energy for extra work you know. With the kids' unending demands and husbands crazy schedule, endless chores....", complained Sara. 

"If you won't look out for yourself who will?" Maira replied in her soft motherly tone. "I always cook Kaddu-gosht(pumpkin and meat) curry for myself even though I know no one's going to eat it but me!"

"What about your husband? Doesn't he like your cooking?" My husband eats everything I cook but I still feel he never really appreciates my efforts."
Maira turned to switch on the facial machine. She paused a bit before answering. 

"I am a single mom," the smile never left her face. 
Sara became quiet. The unexpected reply caught her off-guard. 
The initial cleansing was done. Now on to the real stuff. The suction mechanism of this new-age facial was so satisfying. It sucked up all the muck and grime from the pores. Painless. Exhilarating. Life-changing. 

"I'm so sorry, I would never have guessed! You're so lively and positive MashA Allah! I rarely meet people like you. Everyone around me just tends to bring me down."

"It took some hard lessons. I wasn't always like this." 
The monotonous whirring and buzzing of the suction filled up the silence. But Maira had more to say. 
"He was a loving man. My husband. Not like the typical overbearing sort. But he didn't want me to work because the children were small. So I always resented that. I took that single issue and obsessed over it. Until it just took over my life. I felt trapped."

"I know how that feels.. I always....", sara wanted to say more, but stopped midway. 

"We moved into our own home. My boys were growing too fast. Husband was busy in work. But he always made time to call. "What's up wife?" He'd say it in the tone of that famous cartoon..."what's up doc?!" I always smiled when he did that but something had changed. I reciprocated with a bored, hallow response. I was stuck in my head. I had eyes but I couldn't see past my desires. I had a heart but I felt numb."

"Did you finally break away?" Sara questioned with hesitation.
Maira didn't reply. She went on. "It was my 40th birthday. I was a deadbeat by then. Moody and passionless. My husband wanted to take us out for dinner. I didn't want to go but I complied. "

Maira turned off the machine. It was time for the mask. "Let me know if it's stings or anything. We'll wash it off after 20 minutes InshA Allah."
"I put on my black and blue shalwar kameez. He never liked it much but I did. And I thought to myself, ‘it's MY birthday.’ "

"He called and said he was running late and that he'd meet us at the restaurant. It was our favourite seafood join in Mississauga. I resented even that. At this point I thought I had no love in my heart for him."

"The children and I waited at our table. He was later than usual. I called and his machine answered. I was appalled at his carelessness. "
Sara wanted to speak but the mask was stiffening so she just listened. 

"The waiter came to our table with a thin, wrapped, rectangular box. He smiled shyly and handed it over saying it was for me. I was dying of embarrassment by then. What a bright idea this was?!"

"I opened up the box. It had an envelope in it with his writing. "
At this point, Maira's voice started to break. Sara felt confused. She still couldn't speak. Maira continued. 

"I remember that letter by heart."
"Dearest wife. You might think I don't see what you're going through. You might think I don't feel what you're feeling. And honestly, sometimes I don't. But I love you too much to waste time in the confusions and the questions. There's another letter enclosed in this box."

"It just ended abruptly. My heart was galloping. My kids were looking at me as if I had gone crazy or something. "
"I opened the second letter with trembling hands. I feared the worst. "

"Congratulations Maira! You've been accepted to our School of Professional Aestheticians......"
"I couldn't read further. My eyes blurred. It was no secret that this was my passion. I always shared details of this school and programme with him. And I always thought he wasn't listening. Here he was applying on my behalf all along."
Maira cleared her throat and said she'd remove the mask now. Sara's eyes were watering.

"I called him. Maybe a dozen times. His machine answered. I was panicking now. I took the kids and drove home."

"Your skin looks so shiny and clean MAshA Allah!" Maira suddenly remarked. "I'll now apply toner, an acne-solution, sunscreen and moisturizer to finish off." 
Sara was too engrossed in the story to care at this point. "Where was your husband?" She was finally able to talk. 

"The call came about 2 hours after we reached home. At this point I was on my prayer mat, asking for Allah's forgiveness. I knew I had fumbled. He had to call soon. He had to."

"The home phone rang. The call display said, ‘Hubs.’ Where were you, I sobbed and screamed into the phone."
"Hello is this Mr. Ibrahim's home? This is Police Officer Ben. Unfortunately he's been in an accident...."

"Oh my God..." Sara had no words.
"You know what I've learned from all of this?" 
Sara has never seen such hopeful eyes before. 
"This tragedy brought out my worst. And best. I was a thankless, impatient person. Someone who questioned Allah every step of the way. What I was really supposed to do was thank HIM with every breath. This journey tore me apart and ripped away a huge chunk of my heart. But it did something magical in the process.

It cleansed my soul. It sucked out the muck, the grime; it made me new and shiny...," "just like your skin," she added with a smile. 

Sara held on to every word. Then she finally summoned the courage to ask,"Did he make it?" 
"He passed away a week after my birthday. The accident had rendered him unconscious. And that's how he left us. Without the blink of an eye. This was 10 years ago. I have two grown kids now just finishing their universities." 

Her eyes gleamed with pride. Those brown eyes had no room for sadness anymore. No regrets. No complaints. Just humility. And a full, open heart beating to the rhythm of  Alhamdulillah. 


"Fiction Story but Inspired by true events"

____________________________________

Nida Shahzeb
Country: Canada
June 2019 Writing Contest


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I was just watching a video on Youtube where the speaker mentioned "Allah has promised us Jannah." It made me stop for a few minutes to internalize it.

I won't even make any research to share relevant quotes. I'm typing fully from my heart right now. I wasn't planning on writing today, but I had to take my laptop to write this.

We often hear the phrase "Allah promised us Jannah," but don't really give it justice or realize the power of that statement. When a human being promises, he/she can easily break it. We're imperfect, but Allah is Perfect.

When Allah promises, He keeps His promise with perfection. Allah has promised the believers Jannah, so we must internalize it and strive to qualify as believers. The requirements are much more simple than we make it out to be. Allah does not burden His servant with more than he/she can bare.

Yes, life is full of test, ups and downs, but how else would the true believers be differentiated from the hypocrites? Allah never expected us to be perfect because it is He who created us with the ability to constantly fall. All He expects us to do is to turn back to Him, rise up, and keep striving.

In this world, we take exams, work hard to make money, spend a lifetime for that car, that house, and the best food to keep us healthy. But what about our soul? The body and this world are temporary, but wallahi, the Hereafter is eternal. We strive for this temporary world, so why wouldn't we strive for our eternal being?

Striving for this world isn't wrong at all! Everything we have around us is a gift from Allah. So why not work hard to obtain what was created for us? As long as we don't lose our minds in the process thinking that's all it is to our existence, it's perfectly find.

Guess what? I compared the challenges for the worldly goods and the Hereafter. But what Allah commands us to do is MUCH less than what is required to live a standard life of this world.

You know what makes it hard? The distracts that we create as human beings. The rules that we make, which sometimes conflict with what Allah commanded. The expectations that we invent along the way. The challenges against the commands of Allah that we create as a society, making those who choose to follow the rules of Allah instead stand out as the backwards of society. The doubts that shaytaan creeps into our hearts. You get the point.

If you have a job, expectations will be put in place. You would HAVE to follow certain rules. On top of it all, you would have to work for a number of hours a day to get the reward you were promised; a salary.

For how many hours are we required to pray? It takes minutes and it's not continuous. Yes, it may be challenging sometimes with all the distractions around us. But that's not a battle to give up. As long as we keep striving sincerely, ask Allah to make it easier for us; we would be fine. You know why? Because Allah has promised Jannah to the believers.

The balance between fear and hope is on one hand to help us remember the consequences of certain actions and strive to abstain, and on the other hand, it is to remind us of how Generous and Loving Allah is.

Wallahi, it is true that Allah is to us what we think of Him. Isn't that one of the concept of life in general? The more you think negatively of something or someone, the more you would create a pattern in your actions and thinking that would lead to getting what you expected. But the more you think positively, the more your actions would follow through, resulting in getting what you thought of. It's not some type of "energy" or "power." Our minds work hand-in-hand with the actions our limbs take; for the most part.

Does that mean that despite the distractions and whispers of shaytaan that it would be easy to switch a button, start thinking positively and do the actions that lead to Jannah? Of course not, unless Allah grants you extra blessings to make it easy for you. But even then, we can constantly ask Allah to make it easier for us all.

What am I trying to say here? Allah has promised us Jannah! We need to know that. Now our job is to strive to stay and remain as believers until the Day of Judgement. Will we err along the way? Most definitely; we aren't angels.

But we must NOT give up because Allah has promised us Jannah!

May Allah make us of those who never give up and keep striving.


________________________
Umm Sumayyah is a mother of two and a former teacher who turned into a home educator after becoming a mother. She is also an editor and a researcher who loves collecting and sharing information on social matters, education, career, and entrepreneurship.
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It's unbelievable that yet another Ramadan is knocking on our doors. Ramadan is a time to recharge our batteries, a time to repent even more than we usually do, and certainly, a time to worship more than before.

We're human beings, so we have ups and downs, and Alhamdulillah (all Praise is to Allah), Ramadan is a time for us to catch up and strive once again to make the rest of the year better. Here are ten things we can do during this blessed month to greatly benefit.

1. Purify your intentions
In everything we do, it is crucial to purify our intentions and make sure that we're doing it for the sake of Allah. Doing acts of worship for the sake of Allah is a condition in it being accepted.

2. Repent a LOT
We all make mistakes and sin. But, the best of sinners are those who repent often and strive to do better. Also, repentance should be sincere; from the heart. Allah knows when we're sincere or not.

3. Forgive everyone
We've all hurt someone's feelings, whether intentional or unintentional. As we would have loved for others to forgive us, we should also forgive others for the sake of Allah. Allah loves those who forgive. Better yet, we always ask Allah to forgive us, so it would make sense to also have some forgiveness in our hearts.


4. Pray on time, then add extras
Before doing any extra acts of worship, we should first improve the obligatory ones. After that, let's add the nawafil (sunnah prayers) and work out way up.

"... And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him. And My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what's obligatory) till I love him ..." Sahih al-Bukhari

5. Increase listening, reading, and memorizing the Qur'an
Ramadan is the month of the Qur'an. This is the month in which the Qur'an was first revealed. So it's the best time to increase our reading of the Qur'an. It's also a perfect time to memorize the Qur'an. Not only would we earn rewards in abundance, it would also help us get closer to Allah. It's a good habit to practice now and strive to carry it through the remaining months of the year.

6. Break your fast according to the Sunnah
It can be tempting to overeat before and after fasting, but it's better to eat and drink moderately. The Sunnah is to eat one third, drink one third, and leave one third for air.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was narrated to have said, "The son of Adam (a.s.) does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls to keep him going. If he must do that (fill his stomach), then let him fill one third with food, one third with drink, and one third for air." At-Tirmidhi

We should also learn the du'a upon breaking the fast. It is,
"The thirst has gone and the veins are moist, and reward is assured, if Allah wills." Abu Dawud



Iftar is also a perfect time to make lots of du'as in general.

7. Invite others to iftar
You're probably worry-free when it comes to breaking your fast with your family. Some people have no choice but to break their fast alone. A reason could be because they are studying in a different city/country than their families, they are orphans, or they are new Muslims and the only Muslims in their families. Maybe sharing food with someone for a few nights would bring them joy.

If you're unable to do that, you could always sponsor or contribute to some iftar dinners where people gather to break their fast.

8. Give lots of charity
We should always be grateful for the blessings we have in our lives and extend it to others as much as we can. And before sharing, we should make sure that we give what we ourselves would have loved having. It shouldn't be something unwanted and insignificant.

Also, Ramadan is a month where rewards are multiplied. Allah loves charity, so what better time to increase giving charity than in Ramadan?

" O you who have believed, spend from the good things which you have earned and from that which We have produced for you from the earth. And do not aim toward the defective therefrom ..." Surah Al Baqarah (2:267)

9. Remember Allah often and make du'a (supplication)
Allah should always be remembered, but during Ramadan, it should be increased. Remembering Allah is praising Him, making supplications, repenting, and much more. 

"And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So, let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.Surah Al Baqarah (2:186)

10. Seek Laylatul Qadr
Laylatul Qadr (the night of Decree) is a blessed night in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Rewards are multiplied during this night more than any other nights of the year.

"The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months." Surah Al Qadr (97:3)

May Allah take us to this Ramadan successfully and help us witness many more thereafter.

Ramadan Mubarak (have a blessed Ramadan)!




________________________
Umm Sumayyah is a mother of two and a former teacher who turned into a home educator after becoming a mother. She is also an editor and a researcher who loves collecting and sharing information on social matters, education, career, and entrepreneurship.
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