Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In case of a nightmare

Nightmares... not fun.

A few weeks ago I woke up with a horrifying nightmare. My shoulder was in nearly-severe pain and I was left with a vague impression that my fingers had just been bitten off. It does happen sometimes that I have nightmares, although I have to say over the last few years the intensity has died down. And alhamdulillah, I'm learning more and more about what to do when I have one.

In fact, I just learned a lot more, thanks to a handy little book, Fortress of the Muslim (Hisnul-Muslim), a present from Qabeelat Nurayn (may Allah reward them and increase them in knowledge), from when I visited them for the AlMaghrib seminar Divine Link: Fiqh of Salah. An appropriate present really, this book, which is basically a collection of du'a for every occasion. And occasion number 31 is "What to do if you have a bad dream or a nightmare."

The book cites a hadith in Sahih Muslim which it references as 4/1772. However, when I looked up a hadith so referenced I found one about reading Surah Ikhlas. Another search however turned up a collection of ahadith to support the statement however, so I conclude that they are what is meant to be cited. The following sums them all up best:

Abu Qatada reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The good vision are from Allah and the evil dreams are from the satan. If one sees a dream which one does not like, one should spit on one's left side and seek the refuge of Allah from the satan; it will not do one any harm, and one should not disclose it to anyone and if one sees a good vision one should feel pleased but should not disclose it to anyone but whom one loves. (link)

The first thing to do, if you wake up from a nightmare, is to spit to your left side, three times. This is like what you do in prayer if you feel plagued by excessive waswasa (whispering of Shaytan.) And the next step mentioned is to seek refuge in Allah from Shaytan, and from the evil that you have seen. Some ahadith say seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan, and other say from the evil of what was seen in the dream--so the book of du'a concludes to seek refuge from both.

The part about not telling the dream to anyone is kind of important, I think, and a wise instruction from our beloved messenger (saws). I've found, at least, that the more I tell people about any particular dream, the more strongly I remember it. Similarly, the more I dwell on it, the more I remember it. And why would anyone want to remember such awful images? Clearly, dismissing them and remembering Allah is the way to go--and then you can go back to sleep awaiting better dreams.

And then the next tip is also very interesting--actually moving, turning over onto your other side. There is another narration of the above hadith indicating that the person should change the side on which he had been lying before--i.e., turn over. Psychologically, if you just turn over and go back to sleep, you're likely to forget the dream entirely. I'm not sure if it's changing the position that helps, relieving some pressure in the body, altering the position of your brain, and really Allah knows better. In my own experience, the rolling over and going back to sleep (after the spitting and seeking refuge with Allah) helps me to forget the bad dreams.

And there's just one more tip: pray. Get out of bed, go make wudhu, and "savor the sweetness of salah."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Now on Twitter

So my fiance has been bugging me about writing another post lately, and I imagine some of my readers might have been looking for something to read about me.

But I guess I haven't felt like writing too much...

So I'm just announcing that hey, I'm on twitter now, should anyone like to subscribe and follow me. I've also put a little twittering gadget on my blog page so you can read some of my recent updates.

My twitter id is IbnatalHidayah. :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My evil credit card story

One thing which has stood out at me when reading the first few juz of the Qur'an is the very strong language about dealing in riba--it's haram, undoubtedly. And credit cards? Dealing in riba. Alhamdulillah, I've had some trouble recently with my credit card, which has helped me to take at least one step away from haraam, even if I'm not totally away from it.

Let me just mention this one passage:

O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains [due to you] of interest, if you should be believers. nd if you do not, then be informed of a war [against you] from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your principal - [thus] you do no wrong, nor are you wronged. 2:278-279
So if you choose to deal with interest, then Allah tells you that you'll be going to war with Allah and His Messenger. Imagine standing in front of Allah holding a sword like you're going to fight... the thought is terrifying. So there's plenty of reason to take the prohibition on riba very seriously.

Now, on to my own credit card woes. About a month ago, I had stopped at a gas station and because I was in something of a hurry I wanted to use my credit card. I would sometimes use it to pay for gas instead of waiting in line to pay cash--I didn't have a debit card, you see. So I swiped the card, and found that it was declined. I tried again, and it's declined. So I had to go inside anyway, and of course inside it was declined again so I paid with cash and proceeded to fuel the car.

Once I was done, I immediately called the credit card company to find out why my card had been declined. And they wouldn't tell me. Apparently there was some kind of password on my account--I don't remember ever putting a password on the account, nor did I have any clue what it was (I even guessed several times and couldn't work it out.) And without my password, they refused to tell me anything about my account--including why my card was declined!

What they told me I needed to do, in order to even find out why my card was declined, was send them a fax to remove the password. I was given a fax number and told to send them a copy of my driver's license and to also include my social security number in the fax, along with the request to have the password removed. So I promptly sent the fax, that very evening.

The next day or so, I received a phone call from the credit card company. So I assumed they had received the fax and were now prepared to explain why my card was declined. In fact, they were actually calling to verify some charges on the account that seemed strange--charges that turned out to be fraudulent. So I was told that my credit card number would be changed and I should receive the new card in 7-10 days. That alone would a minor inconvenience, but was prepared to wait. It's not like I use the card on a regular basis, so I didn't think it would be much of a problem.

But after 10 business days (which actually amounted to more than 2 full weeks, including a holiday) I still hadn't received the card. So I called them again, and they wouldn't talk to me without--get this--my password! And that in fact was the reason my card had not even been sent--no password! Even though there was no mention of a password when I was called about the fraudulent charges. So I explained that I sent in a fax in order to have my password removed, only to discover that I can't have my password removed by sending a fax at all, I need to mail a letter!

So I took the address while they told me that I can mail it in or, if I remember my password, then I can call them and they will have the card shipped to me overnight. So I tried to remember my password, called in a few times and guessed, always wrong--still can't remember putting a password on the account, much less what such password would actually be. So I did finally send in a letter.

By then, life started to get inconvenient. I was planning to travel to DC for an Al-Maghrib seminar. Registering late, I would have to pay by check on site (very inconvenient), or by credit card. (Why do they not have a PayPal option, I wonder?) But check was an option, even though I still had to hope they wouldn't sell out. On the other hand, if I wanted to stay in a hotel, I would need a credit card at check-in. But I didn't have one. So I tried to apply to be hosted by the Qabeelah (alhamdulillah some sisters stepped forward to let me stay with them, may Allah reward them and all the folks involved for their hospitality), and by Friday afternoon finally got word that I'd have a place to stay.

On Thursday night before leaving, I called the credit card company again to see if they'd ever received my letter. I had more problems talking to people who wanted my password, but finally got to a supervisor of sorts who was able to find that yes, they did receive the letter! That's what he told me. But they hadn't "validated" it yet, whatever that means, but as soon as they did, they'd have the card sent out.

So I left the next day to travel for the class, and when I came back I realized I still haven't gotten that new credit card. So on Tuesday I called again, and they told me that they never received my letter. That's when I really started getting frustrated, because I had been told already, the Thursday prior, that they had in fact received my letter. She could only see that they had received my fax, almost a month ago! So she thought that when they told me they'd received my letter, it was the fax that they meant, and I was ready to mail in several more irritated letters. And she told me it would take 5-7 days for them to process the letter even after they got it.

So I took a break for a while, and then tackled them again, trying to go as far up the chain as possible. I would talk to one person who would transfer me somewhere else, then they'd give me their supervisor who would have trouble with their phone so I'd try to call back and nobody could direct me back to them. So they would transfer me around again and then I would just get cut off--the line completely disconnected.

Finally I got to talk to one person who said they had received the letter and that they would be sending the card asap. But I couldn't confirm it (bad connection again) and ended up calling back in, and yet again was just given the run-around. Finally I get back up to someone who can help, but who is incredibly rude and unhelpful.

All to just get a credit card sent. Now, they say that they sent it, and it should arrive in 2-3 days (because overnight to them means 2-3 days, or so I was told.) After spending hours on the phone with them, I was frustrated and irritated, especially with the people who were rude--the one lady wouldn't even let me speak to her supervisor, she didn't want to give me her name and didn't give me her number so I could even tell anyone the trouble I was having with her.

Today I checked and was finally able to log back into the account on line to view my statements and such (I don't get paper statements in the mail anymore, but while the account was restricted they wouldn't let me access anything online.) And you know what I saw, still there? One of the fraudulent charges that was never removed.

It really makes me wonder, why I would go through all this, just to stand in front of Allah with a little sword to go to war. It's so not worth it! The crime then is that I can't even just cancel it--because apparently there are times when only a credit card will be acceptable. And I hate that. But the whole fiasco did give me the impetus to apply for a debit card with my bank (I did have an ATM card for my checking account but not a debit card.) So hopefully one day soon I can do away with it altogether.

Alhamdulillah for everything. So much trouble, but still an excellent reminder for me that I shouldn't have a credit card in the first place. (MM on Credit Cards.)