The sweet fragrance of the sweet peas!!

Flowers are loved for their shape, colour and fragrance… but there is something even more fragrant and beautiful than flowers and that is the fragrance of happy memories… the beauty of love and friendship… 

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One of my most beloved memory is of my dearest friend who used to live abroad… one day as we were talking on the phone, she asked me, “what fragrance do you like?” I didn’t realize that she was referring to some bottled perfume which she could bring me as a gift on her upcoming visit…and so in all my innocence I told her that my favourite perfume was of sweet peas…!! Next time we talked she said she looked and looked but could not find this perfume in any shop… we both had a good laugh over this!!

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And last march when the same flower bloomed for the first time in my garden, I was just mesmerized with the tide of memories that just washed over my heart… not just of my beloved friend, but also of my grandfather who used to have a beautiful garden, with sweet peas in various shades of pink and purple, bordering an entire wall… All day long I would run around catching butterflies that would keep hovering over those brilliant flowers… while the bees would be humming like a never ending background music!! Ah the sweet joys of childhood:) 

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And now with an ever-growing consciousness of Allah being the creator of all these gifts… my heart fills with joy when I see these flowers and my soul feels like in paradise when I smell their amazing fragrance…

And it makes me wonder that since Allah has not created anything without purpose… what was the need for these things? after all they don’t give us any “physical” or any “tangible” benefit in life? So what is their purpose? 

The answer can be felt deep inside my heart… that Allah doesn’t just want us to fulfill his commands and lead some kind of robotic life… Rather He wants us to be happy too… He created a need for beauty and happiness in us and that is why he created for us these beautiful things… so that in appreciating their intricate details, we can recognize Allah and feel the comfort of His love and care…  

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I also feel that it is a great gift of Allah that these beautiful flowers remind us of the precious people and moments that have enriched our lives… So that we can appreciate and thank Allah for giving us people with beautiful hearts with whom we can share such delightful experiences… over and over again… Alhamdulillah…

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Mothers are the best teachers

Walking in my lawn one day I was looking at these awesome lillies shining and dancing with the breeze…

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And suddenly in my heart I felt a great wave of love and gratitude for my mother… at first I thought maybe it was because these lillies reminded me of my parents home in which we used to have these flowers… but as I bent down to take these pictures, I saw in my mind the image of my mother bending down and showing me the parts of this flower… stamens and anthers… and the pollen grains…

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And then I understood with complete clarity that the first person who taught me to look at the details of the flowers was not my science teacher but my own Mother!!

And the memories came back with such clarity… I could almost feel the warm air of that summer of 1980… when I was in grade seven and we had the long summer holidays with nothing much to do except the homework… how boring!! 

But my mother made it all so interesting when she would use her free time to make us open our text books and look for interesting stories in the Urdu or English language books which we used to read together… or  sometimes we would look for interesting pictures from the science book which she would explain to us…

So it was the drawing of a flower which captured my attention one day and we looked together at the labelled parts and their strange names… Her biggest favour on me was that instead of ordering me to memorize those words, she made it seem so interesting when she said to me lets go out and look at the lillies… maybe we can recognize its parts… and so we went on this little educational trip…

With my science book in my hand and my mother by my side, we went to see the lillies and imagine my excitement when I saw the stamens and the anthers… so complete and perfect:) But that was not all… she even sacrificed a flower to take inside where she cut open its ovary to show me the ovules neatly lined up together…

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How amazing it was for a child to make this discovery herself… with her own eyes… such are the lessons which we never forget… the lessons which our mothers teach us when we are little enough to think of them as the most knowledgeable people in the world… !!!

So if you have small children… use this time wisely because it won’t last forever… use it to teach them the love of Allah through the love of His creation… teach them before they start teaching you:)  

These children are like the buds… and just like we only see the flowers and ignore the buds… that’s how we often ignore the amazing learning capacity of children… learn to love and take care of the buds too… they are beautiful:)

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The precious Hearts…

I saw something absolutely gorgeous, somewhere around the middle of march, but I have not been able to show it on the blog so far…

Because every time I tried to describe how I felt about it, I would become helpless…how can there be words in my limited vocabulary that could do justice to this masterpiece of Allah’s beautiful creation…??

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This is the center of an ordinary looking flower… we had a few of these in a flower bed… and they appeared to me like the smiling faces of small children… happily shining in the bright spring sunlight…

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They captivated my heart in such a way… as if calling me to come close and take their pics

And of course I couldn’t resist their sweet invitation… so I went close and had to bend down despite my painful back and knees… but the results were far beyond my expectations…

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It looked as if some precious stones had been set right in the center of each flower… each one with a unique pattern of beautiful fuzzy embroidery around the sparkling stones…!!

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As breathtaking as it was… what I really learned was that every child is like a flower and they appear to be so beautiful and shining even from a distance… but if you want to see their real beauty then you have to go closer and bend down your ego… no matter how much it hurts… because only then you will see their unique beauty that sparkles in their eyes and in their hearts…

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But these precious hearts becomes evident for only those of us who appreciate them… otherwise you can just pass them by and not even care that they are around… just like we pass by these flowers and never see their glittering centers!!

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Cool Bananas!!

Although bananas are quite popular, but it’s a fact that mostly it is considered to be just an ordinary fruit… I mean it is certainly most delicious and such a convenient source of instant energy… but still most people wouldn’t think of it as something spectacular…

I also didn’t give it much thought, until I got a few small trees in my garden… with this amazing red thing hanging down…

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I had never known that banana trees had flowers like this… and how beautiful was the bunch of fruit just beginning to form above it!! Slowly they began to grow bigger…And then finally we had a bunch ready:IMG_5692

This view certainly raised the appreciation of bananas in my heart but what truly fascinated me were the great green leaves with their constantly changing forms…

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My first exciting discovery was that each leaf began its life in the form of a long rod extending upwards… like a scroll, tightly wound up:

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At this stage you wouldn’t even guess that it’s a rolled up leaf and not just a stick!! before you know it… it begins to unfurl… opening up from the top and revealing its shiny smooth green surface…

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Often I would think of taking some shots from all sides but before I could act on my plan, the full great leaf would be opened up completely… as if a huge flag of green silk announcing to the world how Magnificent is the Creator who designed me!!

IMG_5203But every glorious thing must come to its end… the time came when the leaves lost their colour and texture and became thin and dry like skeletons…

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And then they were cut off to reveal just the basic stems… which remained standing in the winters like poles without flags!

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And then the cycle of life was completed when one fine morning I saw one of the branches going up high in the sky… a roll of silk… about to open a new chapter of life…

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So this was a short story of the banana tree… many things I saw which the camera couldn’t capture… many thoughts swirl around in my heart which the fingers are unable to type… but one thing I am sure of… you won’t ever look at a banana again without thinking how spectacular it is… what a miracle of Allah:)

Bracken’s Brown Beauties…

The best thing which I love about trees is that they seem to enjoy the breeze as much as I do!! So it fills my heart with joy when I see the leaves play around in the wind… fluttering this way and that… the way the branches sway in the breeze… and my heart moves along… enjoying every little movement… So it was quite a disappointment for me, when I moved to a place, where all I could see from my window were this line of trees, that stood motionless all day long…

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Since it was winter time and the windows were closed so at first I thought maybe the air is all so still that the leaves aren’t moving… but then I noticed in the background and saw some other variety of trees and bushes which were swaying in the wind… so how come these trees were not affected at all…??Later I realized that these trees, whose name I didn’t know, were very heavy in their over all structure and even their leaves looked strong and heavy… so that was the reason that the normal breeze couldn’t move them… They remained motionless and so quiet and still, like expressionless soldiers standing in a line… the word that often came to my mind was “sentinel”… When I looked up their name I found they were a type of the Magnolia tree, called “Bracken’s Brown Beauties”… And surely they had a beauty that manifested itself by the way they reflected the sunlight at various times of the day… their leaves were dark green and very shiny on top, having a rust colour underneath… I took many snaps but couldn’t come up with any that could do justice to their beauty…But I had no idea what beauty Allah had in store for me… it came as a total surprise when after a couple of months I noticed that some of the leaves looked strange and rounded up… And then I realized they were not leaves but buds… and I was right!!

And then after a few days the trees gave me the greatest joy when I saw huge white flowers coming out of the dark green leaves like light bulbs on a dark night..

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Unfortunately I couldn’t get the right close ups so I had to find some photos on the internet just to show you how beautiful those flowers really looked…

But my real treasure was not the beauty itself but the lesson which Allah taught me through this experience… And that is something which you can only feel in your heart… it’s not something that you can copy from the internet 🙂

The thing I learned was that sometimes there might be people in your lives who seem so devoid of feelings because they have a tough exterior… And by their expressionless faces they appear totally unmoved by your joys or sorrows…

But in reality they might be like these magnolia trees… not moving with the wind but possessing a most unique quality of reflecting the sunlight like very few trees do…

And also they might be having some extraordinary goodness in them which will manifest at some later stage… like these exquisite flowers with such a heavenly fragrance…

And this is a joy that only Magnolias can give!!

Seeds of love…

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Last year when we moved into our new house, one of the very first things we did was to put out water and seed dishes for our much awaited visitors… the birds!! One of my most beloved sight is to watch them pecking around… feeling completely at home and filling our environment with their childlike chirping and constant flying to and fro… Although sometimes I would also leave them bread crumbs but what they loved the most is the millet seeds which we know as “baajra”…

The interesting thing is that after a couple of months as the flowers bloomed in the flower beds… there appeared a plant right in the middle of the flowers… At first I didn’t recognize it… but it looked so gorgeous that we let it grow…

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And did you guess what it was? Sure enough it was a millet plant… and I was thrown into a sea of amazement and wonder as I pondered on the lesson which Allah taught me through this miracle…

IMG_5450 The lesson for me was that when we do something whether it is good or bad, then it can have far reaching consequences… the seeds of our deeds are spread around the environment and they grow into plants which we never even thought about… In places we never imagined…

It reminded me of the time I was explaining to one of my friends the need to study Quran… she had many doubts and so she kept on asking so many questions which I kept answering simply because I felt it to be so important to convey this message to her even though she looked least convinced and showed no signs of doing so… but another friend of ours who just sat there quietly… not taking part in the debate and looking completely disinterested… somehow absorbed this message and she called me a couple of months later with the news that she left her job and joined a Quran class full time!!

So all that we say or do has an impact… and it doesn’t have to become evident in the way that we intended… Allah knows where our seeds will grow… and when…?

So just be careful which seeds you are spreading because just like millet seeds will grow into millets… similarly you will get back whatever you spread…

The strength of softness

I was feeling so defeated… my energy down to almost zero… I could barely walk due to the severe pain in my back… But after being bedridden for a couple of days I thought I must make an effort and get out of my room… maybe taking a stroll outside would cheer me up…

And so I crawled out of the warm bed, put on my thickest shawl and went out… one step at a time… It was around the middle of February and as I was walking at a snail’s pace I had the time to ponder on each branch of the dry trees that looked so sad and desolate… But the patterns in the dry wood were amazing…

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And then suddenly I saw a speck of green that made me so excited as if I had never seen the colour green before!!! O my Allah… How could something so soft and delicate make its way out of something so hard and brittle?

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How could this soft leaf crack open this hard surface?

where did it get this power from?

It only happened because Allah chose to make it happen… He can crack open the most solid rocks and mountains for the softest thing as water to come out of them… And so what’s so difficult for Him?

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So this tiny little leaf taught me a very important lesson… that most of the time we give up our dreams because we think that we are too weak to come out of the tough situations of our life… or we believe that people are too hard hearted to understand our point of view… but whether it is the toughness of any external situation or the hardness of anyone’s heart… we should have trust that Allah can make an opening wherever He wants…

Therefore instead of focusing on how tough a situation is… we should be happy to realize How powerful our Lord is… He can do everything…!!!