Speak up for Her #Violence Isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey


Who is she?

She is the girl in your neighborhood, at your masjid, or college. She is the girl who doesn’t have a voice across the world. Who accepts what life has given her. She is the child that was never given a choice. She is the quiet one whose eyes tell a story. Who’s plight is undermined by industries that sell women. She is the writer who converts her sorrows to poetry. Who speaks volumes without speaking. Speak up, for her.

You have a voice. Speak up, for her.

You have a voice. Speak up, for her. (photo: Baby Z proudly supports #SpeakOut tabarakAllah, mashaAllah)

Today is February 14th 2015. Valentines day: a day to celebrate love. Love is defined as a special, sacred bond of deep affection shared between individuals. However, many within our communities are not celebrating love. Many are entrapped in a difficult cycle: the cycle of abuse. It does not discriminate. Men, women, and children are all affected and violence is not fifty shades of grey.

If you have not already heard from Kim K’s tweet, this year a racy film will also be released just in time for the occasion. The book and film itself are shocking to those who have experienced abusive relationships, as the film romanticizes abuse.

But, this post is not about Fifty Shades of Grey-the book or movie.

Rather, we hope to use the fame and platform that both the book and film will generate to shine light a problem within our communities.

Why are we taking the time to talk about this issue?

Research has shown that 1 in 4 women from around the world will be a victim of violent abuse in her lifetime. Within our communities, especially our Muslims communities, abuse can be a taboo topic. The environment created around even mentioning the topic of domestic violence is met by harsh glances, stares, and forced apathy. It is not our business to pry into the private life of others-this much is true, but if we cannot be receptive to those who are in need of help, then we have failed one another. Many of us live in a confusing culture; on one spectrum the issue is hushed over and on the other in a society that promotes movies like Fifty Shades. Enough said.

A recent study of 57 closed-case files from an American Muslim women’s shelter revealed that 37% had experienced multiple types of abuse, 23% experienced physical abuse, and 12% experienced emotional abuse.1

In a study of 190 Muslims seeking mental health counseling in Northern Virginia, 41% experienced domestic violence in the form of verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Victims were 71% adult females, 12% adult males, and 16% children. 60% of all clients experienced verbal or psychological abuse in their lifetime, 50% physical abuse, 14% sexual abuse, and 3% reported having a relative killed.2

So, what can we do?

We are not counselors or therapists. Not wanting to make familial situations worse, sometimes it feels as if there is nothing we can do to help…however that is not that case. There is always hope!

Here at Handbags and Hijabs we’re going to be running a series of posts under the tag #ViolenceIsntFiftyShadesOfGrey. We will be doing research within our communities to learn about programs that exist to help those in unfortunate situations.

A few key points to keep in mind are:

  1. Be aware. Be open and more importantly able to listen. Once we open ourselves up to be supportive to individuals undergoing situations of domestic abuse, Those in need will only be wiling to speak up if they know that someone is willing to listen.
  2. Speak Out. Dialogue. Talk. You shouldnot advise someone if you do not have the proper training or experience. But, you can speak up about your stance, and speak out against violence. It is important to realize that many victims feel guilty for the situations they are in. When we express our views against violence, we are emphasizing to those who reach out that they should not feel bad in doing so.
  3. Reach out to your community. Talk to our local communities. Ensure there are programs for women, men and child where they can go for support. You do not have create them, many times programs are out there, but taking the time to find them, find out what they’re about, and support them!

Our research will be bringing you organizations and support centers that are actively working to help in this cause. Insha’Allah with each post we will highlight the work and efforts of these organizations to further strengthen their efforts, promote awareness and ultimately help save lives.

The first group who’s initiatives we would like to highlight is the Thakaat Foundation. Thakaat Foundation is not your ordinary volunteer group. Thakaat is innovative and constantly tackling real-hard-issues yet are determined to find silver linings. At Thakaat the issue of domestic violence is headed by executive director Uzma Banwany. Uzma’s energy and support really helped move this project forward. Thakaat has two campaigns to promote awareness, the first of which is known as their Break The Silence campaign. Break The Silence is their year round project. This project aims to shed light on the increasing instances of violence against women in order to create a world where women and girls are safe from violence. This initiative is not just a local effort but has hopes that raising awareness at home can honor the plight of women worldwide. Proceeds from the Break The Silence campaign assist women in Ghana, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.

Thakaat also does a L.O.V.E campaign every February. L.O.V.E or Love Over Violence Everywhere encourages others to SPEAK UP to for their raise awareness. The love campaign allows you to send a Valentine’s day card with to someone you love with a donation made in their name. You can unite with Thakaat in SPEAKING UP by contributing a donation on the L.O.V.E. Campaign webpage, www.tinyurl.com/lovethywoman.

This initiative was inspired by a sister who reached out to me, we hope you find this insightful and join us on this journey. Speak up, for her.

  1. Abdullah, Keilani. “A peaceful ideal, violent realities: A study on Muslim female domestic violence survivors.” In: Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri (Eds.) Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project, 2007. 69-89.
  2. Abugideiri, Salma Elkadi. “Domestic violence among Muslims seeking mental health counseling.” Change from within: Diverse perspectives on domestic violence in Muslim communities. Eds. Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri. Great Falls, VA: Peaceful Families Project, 2007. 91-115.



Keep the victims and their families in your continuous prayers.

Keep the victims and their families in your continuous prayers.

Last night I was shaken to my core.

Because last night… Hate you won.

Ignorance, you dominated.

Propaganda, you laughed.

Fear, you persevered.

Media, you ignored.

Victims of ‪#‎ChapelHill‬ looked like my friends. They looked like me.

But they were not like me, they were better.

They helped others. They strove to make the world a better place. They helped the poor and needy, children and refugees. This is how they embodied their faith, but because of the twisted lens of the media, they died for it.

Please make a dua’a for their families. Remember them in your prayers.

If you don’t understand what an American Muslim is or what they believe. Then talk to one, study, learn, observe, question, dialogue. Allow yourself to understand that the way you see the world (or the way the world has been shown to you) could be missing pieces.

But haters don’t talk. They don’t look, listen, hear. They are blind to that. They don’t have a race, religion, or culture. They simply are. And last night, Hate, you won.

Indeed to God we belong, and to Him we return.
And in Him do we never lose our trust. ‪#‎InGodWeTrust

Protectors of Qur’an-A Student’s Observational Reflection


Little girl on the sisters balcony listening intently to Ashara Qi'rat (the 10 different styles of recitation)

Little girl on the sisters balcony listening intently to Ashara Qi’rat (the 10 different styles of Quranic recitation)

Simply said we’re the generation that gets the majority of all our knowledge from the internet. Including our Islamic knowledge. As someone who cherishes the wealth of knowledge that can be found the internet; the best way I can describe the difference in experience from an online class verses being in a Masjid is the difference between the stars and the sun. You can appreciate the beauty of the stars but there’s a distant feeling to it. Whereas the sun stares you in the face, it impacts you in a greater way, it forces you to respond it to. Both are brilliant sources of knowledge but there is a difference that we so easily forget. While everything is available to us at our fingertips, its empowering but at the same time, there is the understanding that we can’t Hulu-ify our ilm or Netflix binge it. It’s the subtle difference of understanding how to use and maximize our online resources without becoming solely dependent on them.

With that being said, Alhumdulilah I was able to attend the Protectors of Quran program this past Saturday and I wanted to share some of my experience and observations while there in hopes that it might be of benefit to us: the Netflix/Hulu Binge-ilm-seeking generation. These are simple observations, and not “lecture gems” ie: this is what I saw and observed outside of the topic being discussed by the Shayuk that I would not have noticed or observed in an online setting.

1. My teacher sat on the floor. Which is not unusual in the slightest bit. However, what was-or at least appeared to be-was that there was two couches in the masjid. One for Ustadh and one for his Shaykh. His Shaykh sat in the chair and Ustadh sat on the floor. I was sort of blown away, because in an online setting we lose that adab. Not completely-but when you’re behind a computer screen it’s easy to become complacent, easy to want to lay down, grab something to eat, change browsers, be on your phone while listening to an Islamic lecture. I know many of us do not do these things, but this observation was a reminder to myself to respect the ilm being passed along and never to become complacent when sitting in front of the Quran and a teacher, even if it is behind a screen.

2. My teacher hugged people for a long time. After the program my sister and I noticed that Ustadh hugged people that he met with and he hugged them for a long time. We all go to jummah and Eid prayer so you know how it works, you say salam, smile and hug people for five seconds and move on, sometimes the hug is like a pat on the back. From the sisters’ balcony I noticed the elderly “uncles” seemed surprised by it, they even seemed to be stiff at first before hugging back. I was shocked at how the simple gesture had lost it’s meaning. How as a community we claim to love each other and the ummah but doing simple things like offering one another a smile or even a real hug is so rare that it is noticeable and strange to us at the same time. Later I learned that Ustadh was actually giving each person a dua’a.

3. Being in a masjid-as your center of learning vs online (I would go even further to say a masjid vs even a regular classroom)is a totally different ball game. Alhumdulilah, over the past two years I’ve had many transformative experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world, but omA, I truly wish we could have our classes in a masjid or that each one of us could experience that. Because when Ustadh says, “Might be a good idea to pray two nawafl…” during a lecture and you’re at home and your bed is two feet away, nawafl prayer seems like a pleasant, distant idea. But when you’re in the masjid-there is literally nothing stopping you from making those nawafil prayers, or picking up a Quran and practicing your recitation, but there is something even more difficult to do when you’re at home surround by your “stuff” and that is to sit down, breath deeply, quietly cutting yourself off from everyone and connecting directly to Allah SWT saying “la ilaha illallah illallah.”

Finding Home #SeerahClass Reflection 2


558906_439372286127052_298472334_nIt has been a year since the last Seerah reflection. A year of the careful following and learning in one of the most in depth encounters of the life of Muhammad (S). I pray that you take a minute to send salaam on our Nabi (S) before reading this.

After going back week after week, despite exams, illness, and life in general, I finally gained the courage to ask myself the big question: what brought me back? Why was it that every tuesday I left friends, study groups, or even dinners to find optimal wifi and connect to Qalam’s seerah class live? What brought me back-besides the mercy of Allah SWT-what were my reasons?

I couldn’t answer it right away.

And, then I found a connection. I found something so powerful that I couldn’t ever put in words for the longest time. Learning seerah was empowering to me, as a young woman.


It’s true.

We live in an age, where as an ummah of strong young women, we are struggling with our identity. Where as a society the push of feminism is sometimes undefinable and very confusing. Where we-young muslim women-think we’re suppose to do “something more, that has never done before” to show that Muslim women are active society members, educated and outgoing. That we are suppose to be fashion forward and covered, strong and yet bashful, opinionated yet agreeable, peaceful yet active. What’s the problem with that? The problem is that all those words are opposites of each other. How many opposites must I be? Where does the balance lie? Why do so many of my wonderful peers feel compelled to be one or other? Then they vehemently crush others who are unlike them, and then inadevertenly crush themselves on the inside.

And it is among this jungle of lost and confused identities that I find myself comforted by the seerah. Comforted by the life that our Nabi (S) chose to live; where men and women are given their due, there is no need for a movement, a fight and assertion of rights. In learning seerah, I find myself, my identity, my home.

I am empowered by the fact that my Nabi (S) married a women that was older than him, Khadijah (R). This helps me deal with the plight that many women face today of becoming “too old” for a vicious marriage market.

I am empowered by the fact Rasoolullah (S) married a successful business women, whom he worked for as a merchant. This helps me deal with the societal assertion that “successful” women are a threat and that their success always comes through some sort of underhanded fluke. That a good man might see a successful woman as threatening rather than a good companion.

I am empowered the fact that the first person to accept Islam was a woman. The first person to encourage our prophet (S) and support him, was his beloved wife. This helps me understand that my role as a female supporter and igniter of deen is vital.

I am empowered by the fact that the Prophet (S) had four daughters. That they were a source of pride, love and comfort for him. This helps me value my role as a daughter is to be a source of comfort and pride.

I am strengthened by Fatima (R), the littlest daughter of the Prophet (S), who stood beside her father when he was persecuted in Mecca. This helps me understand that strength and bravery is not age limited.

I am in awe by Asma (R) who bravely assisted in the hijrah of Rasoolullah (S) and her father Abu Bakr (R). Whose cleverness and alertness averted the blame of her Grandfather on Abu Bakr (R). This helps me value cleverness and tactical thinking during a time when our exchanges have been abbreviated to: LOL, OMG like watevs.

I am inspired by the Prophet (S)’s young wife Aisha(R) because she was a beacon of scholarship and knowledge. I am inspired by her ability to express her thoughts, ideas and feelings to Rasoolullah(S) without fear of reproach.

I am in love with the playfulness of Rasoolullah (S) and his wife Aisha(R). That a simple exchange between them quite simply out does any of the “love” stories that Hollywood and Bollywood spends millions to sell to us.

I am empowered that women who lived in Islam during the time of Rasoolullah (S) held importance in their homes as well as in society simply because it was-and is-a truth. That he (S) lived justice and equality so there was never a need to fight for it. That the women around him (S) were marvelous in action because he inspired the best in all people. That where Rasoolullah (S) saw potential, men and women rose to the occasion.

And when I need strength, when I feel overwhelmed by circumstances, I need just a reminder of what I’m doing with my life and why, I need only listen to a small part of the life story of a man who inspirited others-whomever they might-simply by believing in them and giving them faith. This allows me to identify myself, and though there is a distance of one thousand plus years, this brings me home. May Allah SWT bless our Nabi (S), his (S) family, his (S) companions and his (S) ummah. What a treasure.


Sharing this reflection on the far-reaching efforts of Maulana Abdul Nasir Jangda and Qalam Institute and the seerah podcast series! Only a great teacher inspires students. While nothing matches sitting in a masjid and at the feet of a scholar, who can be opposed to learning small gems from the life of the Rasoolullah by any means possible? Links are in the Library of Gems to tune into live seerah class and access podscasts! Thanks for reading!

Standing In Qiyam


Guest Post by: Roxanna Miremadi. She works at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for the Woman’s Moonshots in breast and ovarian cancer research. She is an avid ilm seeker in Quranic studies and enjoys traveling and poetry. 

Last night, after standing in Qiyam prayer for hours and feeling transformed, feeling elevated, I had two insights. One about the necessity of trials and one about recognizing Allah as the Designer in our lives.

Last night, after standing in Qiyam prayer for hours and feeling transformed, feeling elevated, I had two insights. One about the necessity of trials and one about recognizing Allah as the Designer in our lives.

Last night, after standing in Qiyam prayer for hours and feeling transformed, feeling elevated, I had two insights. One about the necessity of trials and one about recognizing Allah as the Designer in our lives.In Revelation, Allah swt describes the Quran as a healing and as guidance.

Last night I realized, in order to experience the Quran’s awesome ability to utterly transform us, to experience its healing and its guidance (like I had just experienced in Qiyam, or like I’ve been experiencing for the past year) that I first had to be in a state of affliction and also one of misguidance.

In other words, I had always wanted to be illuminated, but did I really understand that if I was to be illuminated by Light, that I first had to be in a state of darkness?

Suddenly, I felt my trials were only a means of me being able to experience the Quran in the way Allah swt intends us to experience it–as the most cherished treasure in the world–the very thing that liberates us from delusion and transforms us from a lump of coal into a brilliant diamond.

I reflected on trials, on how all of us are placed into counter-intuitive situations and how we can basically respond in one of two ways–we can complain to Allah, or we can trust Him.

I thought about trust. There is verbalized trust and then there is trust itself. All of us verbalize that we trust Allah to ourselves but until we are in logic defying situation, we can never know if we will ever really act on that trust.

Amusingly, thinking about “trust” made me remember a scene from the Disney movie Aladdin. The first time princess Jasmine meets Aladdin, and they are escaping the authorities in the market, he asks her, “do you trust me” after he has extended his hand out to rescue her from a chaotic situation.

In that counter-intuitive situation, princess Jasmine acts on trust. When things work out for her afterward she has confirmation, Aladdin is trustworthy.

Later when Aladdin comes to her again, but in disguise as a prince, he once more places her in a counter-intuitive situation. Not recognizing him, she hesitates to trust, she hesitates to follow her heart. Until that is, he repeats the words he spoke to her in the market, “do you trust me?” Her recognition that the “prince” is really the trustworthy man in the market is what moves her to act on trust.

If we examine how our lives have played out, we will all find that whether we trusted Allah in the moment or not, there were certain times when we saw something one way, but Allah swt eventually made it clear to us that He knows best, and it only benefits us to trust Him.

So when calamity hits, how many of us recognize that it is only with the permission of Allah that we are in our current situation? How many times have we been blind to the signs He has sprinkled all around us, signs that are meant to assure us what we endure is not some fluke accident, far from coincidence, rather, it is nothing short of His calculated design! He gives us so many signs so we can recognize Him.

Again, recognition comes from serious reflection. After asking ourselves, “how did I get here,” we realize something. When we look forward in time, into the future, it appears that our lives can go in an infinite number of directions. But when we look back in time, we see a domino effect–how one event lead to the next, which led to the one after that. Basically, in retrospect, we can see Allah’s design. And then it clicks, He was undoubtedly in control then, He is undoubtedly in control now.

This is one level of Allah swt making difficulty easy (Quran 94:5). Our recognition that everything is coming from Him, the recognition that our Rabb has handpicked our life’s circumstances brings us tremendous ease. It is what suddenly makes a “bitter drink taste sweet.”

Think about it, when we really, I mean really love someone, we could care less what they give us, we are just happy to be acknowledged at all! After recognizing Allah as the source of everything, we also recognize our lack of control and ask for His help. Then, it is by His grace that we turn life’s “lemons” into “lemonade.”

My favorite poet, Rumi, comments on how recognition of our Beloved shields us from fearing life.

Rumi narrates that he wants to spook his son, so he puts on a lion’s mask with an elaborate mane and everything. He tries to catch his son by surprise and with the enormous lion mask on, he jumps into his son’s face letting out a loud roar.
His son cracks a whole-hearted laugh. Rumi is confused and asks, how come you didnt get scared? His son replies smiling, “come on dad, I knew it was you, just wearing a mask!”

Ya Allah…

“I’m just going to call you ‘Lord’ because I don’t know what else to call you” How I came To Islam


"the day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible or yours.”

“The day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible for yours.”

Guest post by: Jessenia Ortiz. She works as an editorial manager for a electronic publishing company. When she is not working she likes to spend time with her family, her 3yr old and her husband. Sister Jessie is pursuing hifdhs and spends most of her time memorizing the Quran. She enjoys traveling, and her last big trip was umrah. 

I read a novel entitled “If I should speak” by Umm Zakiyah. This book contains some ayahs of the Quran and Hadiths woven into the story. That novel led me to read the English translation of the Quran, which eventually led to me taking my shahada.

The author included the hadith that says:

“O evil soul, come out to the wrath and anger of Allaah.’ Then his soul disperses in his body and is dragged out like a skewer being pulled out of wet wool…”

This shook me to my core. For 3 days it was all I kept thinking about. I couldn’t believe my God could do something like that (although I did feel inside myself that it was true). After that, I told myself I have to find out what else is in that book, so started reading the Quran.

My journey towards “finding” Allah (the Arabic word for God) really started early around age 5. That was when my grandmother taught me how to pray.  I did include intermediaries in my prayers but I always wondered why I couldn’t pray to Allah directly. I never understood the 3 in 1 God. (Alhamdulillah).

I grew up going to Catholic school and attending church with my grandmother. I learned about the Prophets, perhaps because we were children we were not taught all the negative things that the Bible says about them. I still remember that when I was little, going to Catholic school, I wanted to grow up and be a nun. They seemed so close to Allah. I use to sit in church asking (God) Allah to help me love that religion, if it was the right one. I always wondered why do we say “Thank you God for your son our lord”; why not worship the one that created the “son”?

The first time I was exposed to Islam was actually in my global studies class in high school. Ironically, it was a Jewish teacher who told us about Islam. Alhamdulilah, he presented it clearly, he said Muslims face the Kabah 5 times a day and pray. He even told us how they prostrated on the floor to pray. I thought to myself, if there is anyway to pray to God that is the best way. Unbeknownst to me, while my teacher was telling us about Islam in school, my older sister was also learning about Islam. She would become Muslim that year; it would take me 13 more years to enter into Islam.

My sister did her best to explain Islam to me and in my mind I couldn’t see the difference from what I believed and what she believed. At that point, I had started praying to Allah directly. I still remember that I would say to Allah “I’m just going to call you ‘Lord’ because I don’t know what else to call you”.

As the years passed my sister and her husband would always try to give me dawah (invitation to Islam) but it always seemed that I would have to stop believing in all the prophets (peace be upon them) and believe in a new prophet–Muhammad (peace be upon him). I just couldn’t give them up. Yet, they tried their best but guidance is in the hands of Allah alone.

After some years my sister and her husband moved to MD and put their children in a school called Al Huda. When I asked them what the name of the school meant they said “guidance to the straight path.” After learning that, I always use to pray “Lord, guide me to the straight path“. It was during one of those visits to MD that I my oldest niece just gave me the new novel written by a sister from their community. She gave me the novel, and a copy of the Quran in English. She didn’t say much except “maybe you’ll find it interesting.” I read the novel and didn’t really feel connected, but when I got to hadith quoted within the story (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) it all changed. While the story was from the imagination of the author, the Hadith and the Quranic ayat were real. In my heart felt “this is the truth” so it led me to read the Quran.

I, then, started reading the English translation of the Quran. It was amazing. I couldn’t put it down. I had tried to read the Bible but every time I tried, I kept falling asleep (literally on the book). As I read the meaning of the Quran it just confirmed what I already believed. The Quran told the stories for all the prophets and told the stories of the most upright men in history including Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them).

When I use to read ayat that refer to the disbelievers I use to wonder who those people where. My sister broke the news to me that I was the disbeliever. Finally, I was getting ready to say the shahada but I was still weary. It was a couple years after 9/11 and I just didn’t want to be associated with people who could do something like that. My sister gave me the best advice. She said “the day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible for yours.”

 I took my shahada on October 3, 2004. It was the same night that Muhammad Alshareef (founder of Al Maghrib Institute) gave his farewell speech at Al Huda school. I still remember him saying “There is only one way towards God. Sometimes you stumble upon the truth. You have a choice you can take it or you can dust yourself off and walk away”. I called my sister after the lecture was over and I took my shahada over the phone with the whole family.

When I look back I think, Subhannallah, Allah is the best of planners. He planned out my path so perfectly. There were and are so many tiny details along the way from before Islam up until now. I always make dua that Allah let keeps me on the straight path and never lets me go astray. Ameen.

Quranic Reflections: 99 Names of Allah, Ar-Rahman



How does one go about thinking of his Creator anyway? The answer is the 99 names of Allah. These names, His beautiful attributes, color our understanding of Him, and our world.

Guest Post by: Roxanna Miremadi. 

Bismillah ar Rahman ar Rahim

When I first heard the hadith “I am as My slave thinks of Me,” I was kinda taken back. My rab reciprocates my expectation of Him? If I merely perceive Him as generous, my life will reflect this?

How does one go about thinking of his Creator anyway? The answer is the 99 names of Allah. These names, His beautiful attributes, color our understanding of Him, and our world. What a gift, not to have to be left to speculate about who He is, what a treasure, to be given such an intimate picture of the Rab of the Worlds. Upon a detailed examination of His names, I found my heart melting.

Ar Rahman is a name that I cannot go too long in a day without remembering. Indeed, after introducing Himself as Allah, He calls Himself Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim. Ar Rahman is in the forumula opening every single surah in the Quran (except one) and also the formula we are suppose to begin every action with–public speaking, entering a home, drinking and eating, taking a test, etc.

The name Ar Rahman is also an entire aya (miraculous sign) in the Quran. An aya is meant to be a point of reflection in and of itself, it is meant to guide you to a destination. In surah Ar Rahman, Allah swt opens with Ar Rahman, and then He goes on to say He taught us Quran, and THEN He says He created us. So first, He is Ar Rahman, then because He is Ar-Rahman, He taught Quran, and after that has been established, then He wants us to reflect on how He is our Creator. Before anything else, He is Ar-Rahman….

What really galvanized me into another level of awareness was learning that His names Rahman and Rahim, share the root with the word for a womb. The Arabic language is mesmerizing for so many reasons, one of them is the word associations that come out of root words. Language reflects reality, and the Arabic language reflects an emotionally rich reality. Every word is connected to several other words due to an underlying theme in meaning. These associations are meant to be emotionally provacative and to provide insight into the nature of our entire world. They also have implications for human psychology. The keys to the mysteries of our world, and of our hearts, are within the arabic language as it is the language Allah swt chose to reveal wisdom and al haq (ultimate truth) in.

An example of word associations includes the words heart (qalb) and revolution (inqelab). To understand one, we look at the other. In a revoultion, there is an uprising, and the status quo is “turned over.” Therefore, the heart is that which is always in a state of turning, changing, from one state to the next. So Allah teaches us through this simple but potent association, your heart will always be in a state of flux, so dont worry, that’s just how I made you. One of my favorites is fuad–a heart that is in a hightened emotional state. It shares the meaning with a piece of meat on a barbeque–through the Arabic language, Allah swt is linking our emotionally overwhelmed hearts to a peice of meat engulfed in flames. Yup, I think thats pretty accurate.

So what is the connection between Rahma and rahem (womb)? A mother’s womb is the most nourishing, protective place in this world. The love the mother has for what is in her womb cannot be comprehended or justified–she has never met what is inside and yet, she happily gives up her physical form, her own nourishment, endures pain and disturbed physical processes in order to carry the child. At every moment, she is conscious of the life within her which kicks her awake, and rearranges her internal organs. She thinks of protecting the child before herself. The most amazing part of this parallel is that the child is utterly oblivious to what the mother is providing as well as incapable of understanding the intensity of the love the mother feels for it.

SubhanAllah!!! This is not our wishful thinking, or a poet’s spin on who our Lord is–this is how our rab is forcing us to think of Him! If a mother’s love is known to be unconditional, what then of the Source of all Love? In a hadith, Allah swt is described as giving our world only 1/100th parts of all the Love which He owns, saving the rest for the day of Judgment. In another, He is described as loving us 70 times more than our mothers.

This is why, despite my emotional attachment to so many of my rab’s words, I actually have a favorite aya. This aya functions as my comfort food, I remind myself of it in unpleasant circumstances, “My rahma (my unconditional love), encompasses everything.” 7:156.

Every single one of us has tried to make sense of this world but the thing is, we were never meant to be able to. This aya is Allah swt reassuring us that, despite appearances, not only is His qadr, His hikma, His elm manifest but His rahma is always present too. Looking out through our eyes, things may appear brutal, but through the Divine perspective, there is always rahma. We need not worry if things sometimes dont make any sense, the important thing to remember is, Allah swt has wrapped us up in His Lovingkindness, we are never outside of it.