Category Archives: Personal Musings

Personal Musings on life, art, fashion, religion, politics!

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

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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.”

Learning to Love Him #SeerahClass Reflection

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Handbags and Hijabs

greendome Please take a short moment to read darood (send peace and blessings on the Prophet (S) before reading this post).

While most of us live our lives knowing Rasoolullah (S), seerah class does what books and hours of Sunday school does not; it breaths life into the knowing, by allowing us to fall unequivocally in love. Emotions are tangible and they are real. What we feel truly affects us, physically.

After tuning into seerah classes via the Qalam institute podcasts with Moulana ANJ for sometime, I decided to share some of the thoughts that preoccupy my mind through the week between each class.

Seerah is the study of the life of Muhammad (S); the difficulties, the struggles and the eventual triumph. Most of us learn this at an early age in Islamic schools, weekend, regular or over the summer. Most of us carry a basic outline of the life of…

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Springtime of My Heart

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I feel I’ve grown distant from a good friend. Many say that friends come and go, that I should just let go of the connection that I once had. I, however, disagree. Because unlike so many friends I’ve had and will have in the future, this one never let me down. In fact quite the opposite, I’m sure. This friend will never let me down and is always there when I am in need. Sitting right above my mircrowave counter in a cupboard in a fancy lace jacket. The Quran.

My Lord, make the Quran the springtime of my heart. that is what the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) use to pray for.  This beautiful prayer makes me reflect. During my life there was a time that I read the Quran very often. So often that I would pick it up every hour or so, and look upon my large green paged book with the fondness of a close, understanding friend.  When I read this prayer of the Prophet (pbuh) I realized that during those times the Quran had become the Springtime of my heart.

Springtime means something different for everyone. For me the very notion of Spring brings to mind one word: Revival. A time of peace and healing after a raging winter. Spring brings life to the world around us. As the sun rises, the plants blossom, the leaves turn bright shades of green, flowers and trees alike stand tall hoping to soak in the golden rays of the sun. The sparkling light of sun fills the day with warmth. The birds are out and about singing praises to The Almighty, and as soon as the sun sets and birds crease to sing, the crickets begin their night show.  The joy the uncontrolable delight of springtime brings hope and happiness to all.

Springtime comes once a year and all year we await the season of blossoming flowers and revival of life itself with deep anticipation. Yet, when the Quran becomes the springtime of one’s heart…then it can be spring anytime of the year. During the dark, cold days of the winter, or during the colorful autumn. In fact, it is a gift of good hope when everything else in our lives have gone awry.

To quote Jawaher Balousha “The Quran is not some dry text void of feeling” or even “a bunch of don’ts, a list of commandments. It is the most faithful friend of our hearts. It warms the coldness of our emotions. It fills our world with light when the clouds overcast. It brings life to deadened sensiblities. When all you know is sadness it gives you hope of happiness. It bears the promise of fruition of lost dreams and wasted effort. It is a place of joy

Yet so much like the passing of seasons the springtime of the Quran can easily pass by unnoticed, unless you reach out and embrace it, and make your connection with it. I hope to regain my year round joy, my year round revival of my soul, my year round hope. I hope to regain a connection with my year round springtime. I hope to regain my connection with the Quran.

So You Wanna Do Hijab?

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My friend recently read my blog and suggested I do a post on hijab. While I’ve been planning on sharing my experience with hijab, she specifically requested a post that might be insightful for potential hijabis, especially during Ramadan. So this post is directed to you, “So, you’ve been thinking about Hijab?”

First of all, I want to congratulate you. You may not realize this, but even the very thought of (potentially) wearing hijab has been written down for you as a good deed with great enormity. And more importantly you are inspired by Allah (SWT) in your heart to begin this journey. That in itself is something to smile about, I’m serious!

Now, where to begin? If you’re inspired to begin to wear hijab—the natural place to begin is your heart. It’s gotten you this far already. The heart is where you make your niyahh (intention). Every act for a muslim should begin with an intention, because we are not just rewarded for our actions but for our intentions as well. Our intentions lead to our actions and are manifested in the outcome of our actions. Maybe you are afraid of being “That hijabi” the one that wears hijab one day and not the next, or “the bangjabi” who covers her hair part way, or the “tight-clothes-hijabi” put your fears aside! You’ll make your mistakes (it happens to the best of us!) but your intentions will keep you on track.

How? Well think about why girls get ‘off track’ with their hijabs? It’s not because they are “bad”. It just depends on their niyyah. Sometimes we can forget our original intention and it is recommend to recall why we are doing the things we do consistently. In fact, the sahabahs would remind themselves of their niyyahs daily! Ask yourself WHO you’re wearing hijab for and more importantly WHY? If the answer is Allah (SWT) and to please & obey Him then you are not going to get off track, and if/when you do, you simply need to recall your intention. Allah (SWT) is Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem, don’t ever forget that! Even if you mess up, you simply repent whole heartedly (without arrogance!). REALLY ask for change. Don’t be knowingly ignorant of your situation (as in you have some idea that you’re in the wrong and are possibly in sin, but would rather not know what it is you’re doing wrong thus making you knowingly ignorant).

Now that you have made the intention to wear hijab is the actual action of wearing it. Covering your hair, what does that mean for you? I want to say something about strength. It is important that once you make your niyah that you pray that Allah (SWT) strengthen your heart so that when you wear hijab it is made easy upon you. I’m not saying this to scare anyone, I am saying this because, Alhumdulilah since I began hijab-I have never felt it a difficult burden. And I know many girls who look at it from the outside feel like it is a difficult feat. While it is a big deal, Allah (SWT) makes the difficult very easy for his believers. I’ll share with you an example of the well known story of Prophet Ibrahim (A). Ibrahim (A) was thrown in a fire when his people grew angry with him and his preaching, but Allah (SWT) cooled the fire and it was the most peaceful feeling for him. Similarly when Ali (R) was asked by Prophet Muhammad (S) to stay in his bed the night the Quraish planned to ambush him in his sleep, he recounts the night to be the night he experienced the most peaceful sleep! SubhanAllah, when you take one step toward Allah (SWT) with the right intentions He makes the most difficult tasks become the easiest. Just keep that in your intentions and you will find it to be rewarding.

Now, let’s get down to business. There’s society, family, relatives, boys, friends, media, OH MY! So how do you navigate hijab with all this? First off, talk to your family. Tell them you’ve been thinking about hijab. You can get two reactions: ideally your family would be your support system. They will know your dedication to Allah (SWT) and (a few jokes or concerns aside) they will support and encourage you. If you have a family who is supportive of your choice, say Alhumdulilah and don’t worry about the rest. However, there is a chance that your family may not be supportive of your decision, particularly your parents who are worried about you causing ‘unnecessary trouble’ upon yourself. This will be your first test, but remember Allah (SWT) only tests those whom He loves! You may recall the story of Mustab ibn Umair-better known as the “player” of Makkah. Mustab (R) was rich, wealthy, good-looking and well cared for by his family. When he accepted Islam his mother opposed it so incredibly that she began to starve herself in hopes of shaking his faith. But he stayed firm to the religion of Allah (SWT). Our job is not to please everyone, but to please Allah (SWT) through obedience to Him. And disobideance to your parents when it comes to obeying Allah (SWT) is allowed all the while being respectful towards them. 

Now, there is a society that will look at you completely differently. Without a doubt wearing hijab in western society will make you standout. You are a beacon of Islam. When people see you they will see Islam, there will be questions as well as confusion and there may sometimes be fear. People fear that which they can’t understand. And you will receive a myriad of questions, whole groups of people who maybe didn’t notice you before will open up to you! A host of questions that almost every hijabi gets include: “Are you hot in that?”, “Who makes you wear that—your husband?”, “Why did you decide to wear that?”, “Do you shower with it on” and it goes on. None of these questions threaten you in anyway and chances are you’ll meet new people who are curious about Islam—who have heard about it on the news media but want to know a Muslim first hand.

Another important aspect of hijab is respect. They say respect is earned, not given. SubhanAllah, once you wear hijab—you’ve earned a lot of respect. I’m not saying that there is not the occasional snide comment/hate/predjuice (which I’ll discuss later) but there is a great deal of respect from both men and women. The beauty of hijab is that it can get a point across without you ever having to say anything at all. Hijab in our country is constantly advertised as “oppression” but when you actually meet people in your daily life they see it for what it is and what it shows— strength, determination, and purity. These are all conveyed when you wear hijab. You have the strength to show society that you can exercise your freedom of religion in a country without obligation. You show society you have the strength to stand up to social media that is constantly telling women how they should dress and what they should look like—no one has the right to tell you that except God. You show determination that by covering your beauty you are not an object, but a being with intellect. And you show purity—which is by all means almost nonexistent in a society that encourages multiple partners before marriage. All these are attributes of hijab that speak for themselves when you wear hijab.

Sisterhood. I think one of the best parts of hijab is a global sisterhood. The best example of this is the current 2012 London Olympics. You don’t have to hijabi to feel pride for you Muslims sister from team USA and sisters from the many countries in the world, standing up and competing in the games while wearing hijab. It is a big deal and it is enormously unifying for the entire ummah. You don’t have to wear a hijab to feel this way! But when you do wear a hijab you contribute to the ummah. Your achievements are yours but they also make the entire ummah proud, look good, and feel good! A friend recently met with the President of the United States. While we all have our personal political opinions, we can all truly say that we’re proud to see our muslim sister accomplishing big goals while remember and representing her faith, Islam.

A final word about prejudices and judgment, because it is important to understand how to handle this. If you experience something like this-rude comments, unfair treatment, please, please remember you can share it with friends. We have almost all been there at one point, you are NOT alone! Also please, please, please don’t take it personally. When Muhammad (S) would give dawah to Quraish we can’t even begin to imagine his ill treatment—but we are advised not to take it personally. No one is attacking you; chances are they don’t even know you! They’re attacking Islam and Allah (SWT) is their judge, so leave it to Him.

Also, as you do not want to be judged, don’t judge others who are trying out hijab! Wearing hijab is fard that is best done whole heartedly. We all make mistakes, but inshAllah Allah (SWT) will guide us to that which is better and pleasing to Him. I started out hijab very early age before it was fard for me and made a lot of clothing mistakes then. I didn’t fully understand how to wear hijab or what it meant-but I learned it on the way! It’s harder if you make mistakes when you’re older because people assume you are doing it on purpose. Just as a refresher here’s some clothing advice: wear loose clothing. It’s an oxymoron if you wear hijab and tight clothes. Why cover your hair when you’re showing your body? It is not logical. Hijab is not just the head covering, but covering of the body as well! The best way that this had been explained to me was by Ustadh Wisam Sharieff who said Allah (SWT) had created us as insaan (human beings) and created the animals as animals. We are told to dress as individuals with a higher level of intellect. Animals wear their clothes (their furs) close and tight to their skin. If Human beings do so, they degrade themselves to the level of animals by dressing in tight clothes (not just women but men as well).

This doesn’t mean you can’t dress well. There are a lot of well dressed women in hijab, it’s just more of a shopping challenge but some people have it down to an art. And remember the reward and ajar for your struggles is with Allah (SWT) and is better than anything the world can offer you. It’s a struggle but you’ll get there, inshAllah!

You don’t have to be perfect to wear hijab-we are people and are created with imperfections. If we were supposed to be perfect we would have been created as Angels. This is a fact. Don’t let the fear of “creating a bad impression” on Islam stop you from obeying Allah (SWT) the best that you can. If you’re waiting to become a better muslim-well, aren’t we all? It’s like thinking that if you are not physically fit; working out a little each day won’t make a difference, so you don’t do anything at all. It makes a difference, slowly you’ll become stronger, and you just need to trust yourself and Allah (SWT) to take the first step.

I hope that you find this article useful in your journey to hijab, inshAllah. If you are seriously considering it then you are most definitely in my duas (prayers). Just to keep you supported this Ramadan, I’ll post guest posts from individuals with their personal stories about how they came to hijab that will be up one each week, inshAllah. So please share the khayr with any sisters taking this step inshAllah!

Just received word from a friend Haute Hijab is giving all new hijabis a free hijab! Just follow the link: http://www.hautehijab.com/blogs/hijab-fashion/6306366-ramadan-mubarak-first-time-hijabis-receive-a-free-hijab 

Love Lessons

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It takes a long time to find what we search for almost daily, some since early childhood in various aspects of life. It is that ‘key’ that is seemingly missing. That endless search for ‘love’. When we are young it may surround us unconditionally from our parents and loving relations so we search for it among friends. Trying to find those who will ‘stick with us through good and bad, thick and thin.’ Friends who will be there when we fall, celebrate when we win, rejoice in our happiness and share our sarrows. But as life takes its course we learn that friends are gifts, wonderful in everyway, but they are not forever. They do not always share our every happiness, they cannot always come through in our darkest time of need, still they are wonderful, but they are not constant. They are not forever. Like the change in seasons they are beautiful, but they too come and go.

With this knowlege our search for love continues nontheless. We search for love to bring us unrivialed happiness. Unimaginable joy and companionship. We search for love in soulmates. Searching for a soulmate encompasses a long and sometimes painful journey full of doubts, fears and yet the highest for hopes. A hope that is reproduced in our media and is comercialized: Beauty is the key the love. Beauty also happens to be skin-deep, so why not buy our new facial skin creams? We can get so caught up in our search for “true love” that we don’t realize that our criteria for love and our realities are quite so very different. We want love that is endless, pure happiness and bliss that is not tainted. In reality our lives revolve around the short term, each action (good or bad) is equipped with consequences, and there is no pleasure or happiness without a cost.

Upon this realization I came to a single conclusion. The love we search for is often misplaced. We search for it in friends, in companions and one-true-loves, in parents, in children, in relations but as wonderful and beautiful as these relationships are they cannot bring us what we search for, that perfect love. Does this mean that it does not exists? Those that come to this conclusion find themselves worried and depressed. Their deepest desire has no existance in the world in which they exists and they find this world a very sad and dark place. The truest moment of happiness I have ever experienced in my life -untainted- is in the love of God. Because it is God who answers us every single time we call upon Him. Who loves us more than our mothers, who provides for us the tangible and intangible, from the breath we take to the beating of our hearts. This love that we search for was created for God and we, as humans often do, misplace it. It brings us grief and heartache until we find the source to whom we can dedicate this love. An eternal source that gives us hope when we are down. Protection, courage, strength, and most importantly: Love.

“Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” (Quran 13:28)