2021 was the year I was going to turn 50 and take a long-awaited trip to Greece and the islands. As it happened, 2021 started with much uncertainty due to the lingering presence of Covid 19. We were all still working from home and praying for protection and relief from the pandemic for our families, friends, and people around the world. For those of us who were lucky to be safe — with jobs and comfortable lives in the Bay Area full of sunshine and outdoor activities — the pandemic was a period of slowing down, introspection, and most of all gratitude for God’s many blessings that we had previously taken for granted.
My birthday was to be on the 29th of Ramadan, a blessed month and an even more blessed night. I have never felt the kind of contentment I felt leading up to that month. I was realizing with each passing year that Allah has blessed me with so much more than I could ever have imagined. I was wondering what to get myself for this upcoming birthday — a new watch perhaps? That pair of shoes that every influencer is urging me to invest in as a fashion statement? Or maybe the designer bag that admittedly I have been eyeing for a few years? Nothing seemed necessary. I was very content with all the bags, shoes, and watches I already owned, and more than anything, I was happy with who I was.
But who was I? How did I become me? Those questions led me to return to my childhood and realize that my happiness, positivity and overall goodness (I hope!) were owed to being raised by parents who provided me the security of a home. I had never worried about where my next meal was coming from or if we had enough money for school tuition. We were not the rich ones of the community, but we were very well taken care of, and that led to the confidence that if I applied myself and put in hard work like my parents, I could be a productive citizen of the world. Along with this confidence came the influence of my mother, who taught me that no matter how little is in your wallet, there is always enough to share with someone else; that sharing is our responsibility as Muslims; that taking care of Allah’s creation is why He had blessed us with more than some others.
A few years ago I went through a big life change, and during that time I met Dian. Nothing gave me as much joy as when I was at a GiveLight event or helping out the cause in some small way. I didn’t have a job then and couldn’t really support GiveLight financially, but I did whatever I could. I loved when the local children would come to my home and we would spend time together. I learned about their resiliency and looked forward to meeting with them again and again. As my 50th birthday drew near, I decided that I wanted these children to have everything on their wishlists; I wanted them to experience the contentment of not having to worry — to be able to buy new books, or a desk to do their homework on, or perhaps a pair of shoes.
I started my birthday campaign with the goal of raising $1000 and the intention that if I did not reach my goal amount, I would use my birthday trip money to fill the gap and cover the rest. The campaign started, and my community of dear friends raised $1000 within the first hour. I kept raising the bar, and they kept meeting the challenge. It was not me; it was Allah showing me that if your intentions are pure, He will open doors from places you never knew existed. It was my friends, whom He brought into my life to hold my hand and support me — friends like Dian who brought the joy of these children with her, giving me a purpose and a means to share my blessings.
I might not have what the world calls “a lot” in terms of physical wealth, but there is always enough to share, Alhamdulillah (praise be to God)! I could not have asked for a better birthday celebration than what Allah Most High had willed for me this year through GiveLight and its children.
GiveLight supporters have contributed to our cause in many meaningful ways. Below are some testimonials from friends who have celebrated their birthdays for the benefit of our children.
I believe that the best gift you can give someone is a reason to smile. The idea that a little bit of effort on my part can light up a child’s beautiful face with a smile inspires me to continue supporting this cause. May Allah Most High continue to bless our GiveLight Family, Ameen.
I hoped that by using my birthday as an opportunity to ask for donations for GiveLight’s children, I could bring them happiness, warmth, and love. What an honor and blessing for me to be able to share my special day with them. I am very grateful to my friends for their donations. May our Creator reward them abundantly. Celebrating my birthday in this manner created a beautiful birthday memory for me that will last a lifetime. What a sweet birthday blessing. I hope Allah Most High will give me the opportunity to celebrate my birthday with GiveLight’s children for many years to come.
Shahin Sajid Shaikh
May Allah reward you, Dian Alyan. Every part of you and this cause is so pure and transparent. Not only will [supporting GiveLight] bring us closer to our Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) in the next life, but [the children’s] cute smiles bring us so much peace and contentment in this life too. Alhamdulillah (praise be to God) for those beautiful souls who donate and believe in this cause. May Allah make it a sadaqa jariya (continuous charity) for each one of us.
Looking after orphans is a teaching of the Quran and the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). I hope and pray that this will bring us closer to Allah Most High in this world and closer to the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) in the next! Having kids of my own always reminds me of the children who are less fortunate and suffering. I can only dream of doing what you are doing, Dian Alyan! I wish I could be like you, but whatever little I do for the children gives me peace and joy. My birthday was a perfect opportunity to raise some funds for these beautiful children. It brought so many blessings to my special day Alhamdulillah (praise be to God). I have known you personally and really admire your work. I trust GiveLight fully to use our donations in the best possible way.