Tag Archives: Diary

Journal writing or Muhasabah

My Journals

Salam Alaykum,

this post is derived from an aspect of the first ZeroToHero challenge, the question was why I’m writing a blog instead of writing a personal diary or journal. I actually do keep journals, in plural, for different purposes.

The Art of Manliness has put together a few articles on why and how to keep a journal turning it into a habit and generally habits young men should adopt. Art of Manliness is very American centric in their great men list who kept a journal.

I just read part of a paper (some Notes) by Goerge Makdisi on The Diary in Islamic Historiography. He notes that while the earliest existent diary (in the form we have it now) in the West is the anonymous French Journal d’un bourgeois de Paris de 1405 a 1449 in the Islamic world, that has been developed earlier Ibn Banna Al-Hanbali wrote one in the 11th Century.  He also remarked that he does not think that he was unique in doing so and believes it goes back further based on hadith literature and criticism from the scholars from the time, referencing to handwritten records. For example “Ibn Rajab said:” he recorded extensively in his own handwriting, acquired beautiful authorized works of hadiths, but he transmitted only a few hadiths because he died before the time was ripe for him to become an authorized transmitter.””

Whether it is a Rihla a travel journal, travellers such as Ibn Batuta or Ibn Jubayr wrote or part of Muhasabah, Muslims have written and kept journals.

For me it all started with a talk by Abdel Rahman Murphy I posted on this blog once before. It’s called Project transformation if you want to search it on Youtube. He was talking about constantly having a revolution within yourself, transforming yourself. Watching that I immediately started a “journal”, having had a diary before.

On the 5th of February 2013 at 02:40am, I started my first entry with a list of practical things things to do to revive ones Iman. (faith)

  1. Being honest with yourself, getting over your denials
  2. Be practical, start a journal/diary
  3. Assess and evaluate ones lifestyle
  4. Look at your companions/friends
  5. Be the friend you wish to have

Over time I’ve written in it more and more but also having periods where I get so caught up in life that I forget to write anything. Today, a month to go before the “anniversary” I’ve filled 2 journals (almost), and started a few for different purposes. One dedicated to organising my writings on this blog, as well as recording the improvement of my skills especially in learning CSS and HTML. Another is the actual journal and another is to note down interesting quotes and generally notes from lectures I’ve been to, noting down my progress as wannabe student of knowledge.

So why should we as Muslims especially start a journal?

Essentially because of Muhasabah, you might ask yourself now what that is, since I’ve used it in the title and above without explaining it. This also actually ties back with my theme this month on “Being Thankful”.

Muhasabah is derived from the word hisab meaning bill or invoice, it can be translated as retrospection or self-criticism. In an article on Suhaib Webb this saying by Umar ibn al-Khattab is mentioned.

Umar ibn al-Khattab (radi Allahu `anhu – may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Criticize and appraise yourselves before you are criticized and appraised on the Day of Judgment, and weigh out your deeds, before they are weighed out for you.”

This is essentially what we should do daily, taking time to go over what you have done today in terms of good and bad and a way we can do this is by keeping a diary.

Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya rah. writes about Muhasabah in Madarij as-Salikeen, defining it as:

“Al-Muhasabah is to look and compare between what you have done right and what you have done wrong, so you thank Allah swt. for what you have done right, and you try to correct and fix what you have done wrong.”

With each turn of the page, with each page you fill you realise that the days have passed  and will not come back. Hassan Al-Basri rah. said: “O son of Adam! You are but a bundle of days. As each day passes away, a portion of you vanishes away!” So with each day, we need to make the best out of it, thanking Allah swt. for it and repenting from the sins that we may have done that day. On the Day of Judgement it will be to late to do so.

Look at the favours bestowed on you by Allah swt. and compare it to your sins, reflect on your life, on your actions and your attitude. Constantly try and do more to please Allah swt. and set yourself goals every day. This is a reminder for me first and foremost before it is to any of you.

Wa Allahu ‘Alam,

Wa Salam,


PS: I’m not advertising MOLESKINE even though I click with those notebooks!


#January – Being Thankful


Uhibuk ya misr.

I do actually love all arab countries, I may hate their administration but how can I not love filistin, misr, suriya, Al-Sham in general, Saudi etc. when these are the lands of the prophets. I hope and pray for peace in all of these lands and that Islam may rise strong once again.

As you might know, I’ve kept it quite quiet before I went, I was in Egypt for a month coming back at the start of Ramadan. That was not planned. Nope, not at all. Planned was to stay 2 months, from the 13th of June till the 23rd of August. Our mission? Learn as much arabic as possible, succeeded? Weeelll. Madha sata’mal ma’a wahid shahr faqad? (what will you do, with only one month)


We worked with Al-Kitab Al-Asasi, wrote dialogues and stories, which I need to remind myself to carry on doing, otherwise I’m going to forget everything, yaniy kullu shay!!! 6 hours per day 4 days a week, we had Fridays and Saturdays free, we also didn’t get a meal on those days meaning we had to go to restaurants. Hone our skills to look stupid when not understanding something or starring the other in the eyes, silently pleading that the opposite understands. Amiya is hell, how is someone supposed to understand that? We’re learning fusha faqad (only), the “g” threw us off completely. (exp. Fajr with a soft geem in fusha is a hard g, Fagr in ‘Amiya) The first time we went I was the only one not to get badly sick.

I should mention we were 3 people at first, later on another arrived who was to stay while we went back. U. and I knew each other since birth pretty much. His mother was there at mine. He’s 2 years younger than me. T. was another in our group, him I knew from the DMK. The last person I didn’t actually know yet, the others did though, T. from school and U. knew him from the MJD I think, he arrived on the 5th of July. A. another old friend of mine was supposed to come on the 12th, he had some Exams and was looking forward to it. We had to return before he could join us, well read what happened below.

We lived in Ain-Shams an area where the middle class as well as a lot of the poor live. It felt unsettling that at this moment we probably were the richest people in the area.

It has quite a few mosques in a 50 metre radius from our flat. It however is no Nasr city. Which I’m sad to say we couldn’t visit, in fact we couldn’t really leave Ain-Shams. We did once because the guys wanted to go to a doctor who spoke German. Apart from that only to the Airport. Ah no we went to Tahrir square once, before the whole madness started.


From my Egypt Moleskine Diary:

“The Nile passed near Tahrir Square I didn’t know that. We crossed the bridge to the Isle. It was a nice view over the Nile especially since the sun was going down. Unfortunately my camera and my phone’s battery both failed, so that photos will have to wait till next time, inshaAllah”- Saturday 22nd June 

“In the red carpet mosque there is a radio on the minbar, one of these old style ones. Black with yellow stripes, looks kinda cool. There’s a red string attached to its antenna wonder what that’s for. Just saw the first asian looking guy in Cairo, if I’d have to guess I’d say he’s from Indonesia.” -Wednesday 26th June

“As Egypt marks its one year anniversary with president Muhammed Mursi, protests for and against his presidency climax. Around 7 people to my knowledge died. We got the day free, as our teacher is going to take part…He advised us to stay indoors, to have brought everything we needed and not to take any photos on the street if we do venture out…The lights went out again, we heard the generators go out, so this time we’re sure its got nothing to do with the cables outside.” – Sunday 30th June

“News: Egyptian army blocking off roads in and around Cairo to contain large crowds. / Armoured vehicles deployed / Egyptian presidency office says Morsi ready for coalition government…”

“…We’re totally stressed out and strained at the moment. I was able to talk with my mother just now. She’s totally worried.We’re safe, nothing’s going on in our area…” 

“…An extremely loud bang outside, a child yelling Takbeer. The kids are going to start a revolution here soon…” 

“Egypts president Morsi has been overthrown and Constitution suspended…A lot has happened in the time we prayed Isha at Masjid A’lisha. Adli Mansour is the interim president, he was the chief of justice…Outside people are celebrating, we’re worried about what’s going to happen next…Feeling kinda powerless, like a spectator…Leaders of the Brotherhood are now being arrested…There were rumors that the military put Morsi under arrest. He could have been forcibly removed and sent to the presidential palace as a helicopter landed there, or so are they saying… Number of the German Embassy in Cairo: 002-2728-2000“- Wednesday 3rd July

” “The army rolls over the bridge made of The People” ” – Thursday 4th July 

“We’ve got no electricity again, U. is going crazy again…”

“…Ash-shab yurid (The people want)…the oldest son of the teacher has become the breaking news correspondent. The teacher told us he believes everything the media tells…The worldwide leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was arrested today, but let go soon after. He is going to give a speech right about now…Picked up the 4th in our group today, Suhaib” – Friday 5th July

The teacher is not sure if we will have lessons tomorrow, there are 3 options 1. He will call and everything is all right  2. He will be taken to prison. 3. He will be killed…He called! We thought he wouldn’t any more tonight, it’s past midnight.”

“S. came through the door, saying lessons have been cancelled. I thought okay, maybe he is sick. Hoping the status Quo, was being held unto. He shattered my hopes right then and there. He said that they were attacked but he is okay. I was now totally awake, stood up turned on the TV. AlJazeera showed a clip of what happened at dawn, 42 people were killed and 5 children among them a  6 month old baby. We called the German embassy. The situation will probably escalate. They’d advise us to leave, however no official notice that all Germans were to leave Egypt had been given. If we were to stay we could be put on a crisis list…”

“We just went up the roof, and then climbed on the roof of the stairs again, all of us this time. We prayed Maghrib on it, it was…just heart-touching, the wind travelling all around us, birds circling around us. I just gave my self up, my Nafs didn’t matter. I hope I’ll have more moments like that.” –Monday 8th July

“On the roof at the moment, with the boys. We’ve had tea, then prayed Isha, S. just put a small talk by Imam Siraj Wahaj on. Now they’re playing some kind of Lebanese game with stones, looks interesting 😛 , in the background the horns of cars blaring, reflecting our view of Cairo as the never-sleeping city. The streets are filled, even at 1 o’clock in the morning, with children playing…In our plane at the moment about to take-off. And take-0ff we did, saying Salam to Cairo for the near future, even U. got a bit sad to leave at the end.” – Tuesday 9th July

DMK – German Muslim Circle

MJ – Muslim Youth in Germany

Wa Salam,



PS. 12/12/13 – I removed the names from this post, read through it again and corrected some spelling mistakes. I just realised, that I did not ask their permission before posting this. Well, it has been Online for almost 6 months now, better late than never though, before I get into trouble with them. Even if I do think they wouldn’t mind me posting their names with it it is common adab :/