Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ihsan: Let Your Faith Bring You Ease


This was almost written for my mommy blog. But then I realized that everyone could relate and perhaps benefit, with the will of Allah.

Disclaimer: I am not a scholar of any sort! But I am a mom, a wife, a human and a Believer in Allah. I go through trials and try my best to repent, learn, and change for the better, with the help and guidance of Allah.

As humans, we often look for validation and praise for the things we do. Many of us may not want to admit that. The reason this was initially for the moms was because they do so much that no one will ever see or express gratitude or appreciation for. Sometimes it’s not even enough to know we are doing what’s essentially right. She cleans, cooks, and nurtures the children all day long, but no one is there to notice. She nurses an infant and stays up all night when everyone is sleeping. No one notices. All they see is a lethargic person the next day whose hair is dishelved and voice raspy.  And because of this, many mothers and wives build resentment and some may look for validation within society. When you get an A on a college paper, you receive appreciation and praise for your hard work. When you complete a project at work, you get praised and financially compensated.

What compensation do we receive for doing good deeds?

Ihsan has many meanings. When I was first introduced to the word, it was in the context of God-consciousness. Not just any type of consciousness, but an awareness of Allah so strong that you live your life as if you can actually see Him (in a spiritual sense of course). Do you pray when no one is watching? Are you kind and patient with your infant child, although knowing she cannot tell anyone if you were not? Would you help someone in need even if no one was around to smile at you or pat you on the back? Would you fast if you were in seclusion, with no one to witness the sacrifice you have made?

Allah knows. Allah sees. And the angles are recording what you do.

Do you really believe that? We say we believe, but the real belief is in the practice. Ihsan is a way to live our lives. This Ramadan is the perfect time to strive towards having ihsan. Allah has made it easy for us because doing good usually feels good too. We were created to have an inclination towards the good.

With Ihsan, we will be happier and more content.

Sometimes it’s the small efforts we do to make other’s lives easier. If you vacuum the rug everyday while no one is around, most likely they will not express gratitude for your act. They key is to eliminate that craving for appreciation for every little act. We can start this by shifting our energy towards giving gratitude, instead of expecting it. After completing a good deed, thank Allah that you had the energy and strength to complete the deed. Thank Allah that you were able to make someone else’s life easier, because only through Allah’s mercy is these actions possible. If we expressed gratitude every time we did something good, our faith will be increased, inshaAllah. Our thoughts will turn towards the light instead of the darkness, and we will be content and happy with our lives.

Leaving you with this and a sincere prayer that we can find peace and satisfaction in knowing that Allah is watching all the time and that is always enough. Ameen.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “(Ihsan is) it’s to worship Allah as you are seeing Him and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you.” (Al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 48)




Thursday, September 5, 2013

Conscious Existence: Refuting Fear and Living in The Moment



There is a constant stream of LOVE being transmitted throughout the universe.

LOVE has the power to transform our lives.

As humans, we were entrusted with thoughts, emotions, and innovation. Looking at the history of man and invention, it would be an understatement to say that it has worked out really well for us. However, we cannot get lost in our inventions, whether they are of a physical, intellectual, or emotional nature.

Yes, we invent, that’s what we do. We are architects of our environment and our thoughts. We build pyramids and skyscrapers, and we theorize all day long. Our curiosity has uplifted us above the rest of the animal kingdom. We are nation builders and knowledge seekers.

The homo-sapiens are sounding pretty magnificent right about now. We are animals of mass discovery; a quality fueled by necessity and a longing desire to do bigger and better things every generation. In the same breath, we must also consider the downside to being such intellectually evolutionary creatures. I would say it can be summed up pretty easy: we think too much.

Our minds are in constant toil, living in the mistakes of our past and the aspirations of the future. It could be a strong argument that our intellectual superiority comes along with the risk of not living in the here and now.

Take a bear for instance; the bear forages for berries, swipes fish from the stream, protects their young and hibernates all winter. Oh yes, and we must not forget, the bear will almost inevitably procreate given the right environmental factors. The bottom line is that a bear is going to be a bear no matter what, living a life of complete submission to the natural order of the universe.

Do we submit?

Our intellectual capacity can and will hinder us if we allow it, which many of us do because to live a conscious life actually takes quite a bit of concentrated energy directed at that goal. Meditation is one of the age-old methods of reconnecting with the universe and living in the now. However, many of us find it very difficult to quiet the mind and surrender the spirit to nothingness.

Islamically, Muslims are supposed to live life knowing that ALLAH is IN CHARGE. If one really internalizes this notion, obsessing over past mishaps or future goals would not be an option. Perhaps more importantly, living in a state of fear would not be an option either. But, we are only human right? We were created with both intuition and aspiration. The key is to focus more on the intuition, therefore living in a true state of God-Consciousness.

When we are God-conscience, we are open to receive the love of the universe. LOVE: It is in the vibrations of the wind and the circulation of chlorophyll in the leaves. The love runs fluid through our veins and fuels the beating of our hearts: We are all connected. Being open to receive the love is the biggest gift we can give ourselves.

How do we do that?

Call it the whisperings of the shaytan or call it mind-chatter: it is the gook that plagues us, keeping us out of our own existence. Quiet that. It’s like when we make the intention before a prayer; we must intentionally be present. We must desire to want to receive love, happiness and gratitude. 

The beauty of living in the present is that we have removed the gook that weighed us down, so now we are freed up to accomplish our goals step-by-step, not missing a beat, and the rewards of our hard work will be not in the completion, but in the process itself.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Do You Praise Your Lord When Your Feet Hurt?



It is true that wealth is a test. It’s like when we get that promotion and we start acting like our socks don’t stink. We start riding on high horses; clobbering anyone in the way of our rose-petaled path. And worse of all is when we dare to to claim that our good fortune is all of our own doing. May Allah protect us from that ungratefulness! Make us humble when we are blessed with the riches of this world! Ameen!


While all of that may be true, I must confess that it really is not that hard to pull up to the masjid in a drop-top cream-colored Bentley coupe, drop a bean in the sadaqa box and make salat shoulder to shoulder with the ummah in custom made threads, looking like you just hopped off the money train!


However, it is hard to to catch three buses with three grumpy kids, feet hurting from a long week at work, coming to the masjid on Sunday for ta’leem because bossman not trying to hear nothing about getting off early on Fridays for jummah prayer! But you throw on them dusty worn out threads, tearing on the seems and frayed on the edges, hoping it will looks like you just trying to be stylishly tattered. Then when you finally get off that third bus, you have to walk up a steep hill in ninety degree heat pushing a brokedown stroller and dragging the other two tagalongs, determined to make it to the masjid because you are trying to instill in them the importance of striving for the deen.


Alas, you have arrived at Allah’s House. You slide off your dusty shoes and the first step onto the lush green carpet is like a dream. The cushiony fibers welcome your sore feet, relieving pressure from your throbbing bunions and painful corns. A week of hurried walking and standing in unfit footwear all day long has taken it’s toll on your undeserving hooves.


When everyone lines up for the afternoon prayer, you tightly hold in your arms and legs quietly praying no one will take a whiff of your sweaty odorous body; the parts that could not be remedied by wudu. Allahu Akbar... Looking down, it’s evident the holes in your socks have widened during your travels, now revealing those tired dogs- those poor mistreated feet, covered in ash and soars from years of living life in the hard lane...


... But you made it! All praises are due to your Lord! You made it to this place of worship just in time to make prayer with the congregation. And suddenly life doesn't seem so bad, if only for the two hours you spend amongst the believers. Now you have the energy and the faith to make it through another week. Alhamdulillah!


You empty your wallet into the sadaqa box; only a few singles and some change, but the feeling you get from knowing you are contributing to your community is immeasurable. You will not allow throbbing feet and empty pockets to be your story. Your story is that of a righteous believer, striving to make good in this life- striving for peace and success- the kind of success that can’t be bought with dollar bills. No, the success you strive for will follow you into the grave and will make your existence here on earth worth the walk up that hill!

So the question remains my sisters and brothers, Will you praise your Lord when your feet hurt? Will you praise Him when you pockets are flat and your car is broke down? Will you praise God amidst calamity and death? Don’t let the test come before you can answer this question. SAY YES NOW JUST BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOU ARE BLESSED.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Worthy Investments: What Are We Doing!?



I was trying to think of something clever to say to open up this article. But in the hopes of not causing misinterpretation or confusion, I’ll give it to you straight: What you spend your MONEY, TIME, and ENERGY on says a lot about YOU!!

I know, the formula seems simple enough. But if it’s so simple, why do we spend so much time complaining about what we don’t have, chasing what we think we need, and praying for what we want, yet our actions don’t reflect the words that slush from our mouths.

There are a lot of people in this world who would love to be rich. But, the truth is, if you were not born into a wealthy situation, it will take endless lots of time, effort, and ingenuity to climb the staircase to affluence. Do you have what it takes?
May women say they want a good man, but if you even slightly believe in the laws of attraction, you know that you must step your game up to be the best woman you can be and your good man will be attracted to you a like a refrigerator magnet. Same to the brothers looking for a quality woman!
You see, it’s about investing. If you decide to invest most of your time, energy and money in your children, you will most likely end up with highly educated, well-rounded children who value those things of which you invested: family and education. However, it will do of you no use to keep hoping and praying for children who value these things if you invest all of your time and energy trying to get rich or chasing the opposite sex.
And that brings me to perhaps the biggest part of this whole expedition: SACRIFICE. Are you willing to sacrifice relationships, social-life and sleep to achieve your goals? Then you must ask: are your sacrifices in vain? Are you sacrificing time with your children to have a better social life? Are you sacrificing volunteering in the community so you can shop ‘til you drop? Are you sacrificing your marriage to achieve wealth and prosperity?
I’m not going to sit here and tell you what you should be doing with your money, time and energy. But I will share this with you: one night as I was hitting the books hard -  Environmental Science – and boy I was really studying hard, trying to get that A. Then it dawned on me, when was the last time I devoting this must time and effort into worshipping Allah? Come on now, like when was the last time I drank a 5-Hour Energy shot so I could stay up reading Qur’an? Ummm… So why do I keep praying for Allah to give me stronger iman (faith)? Why do I keep praying for His mercy?
But don’t stop praying, oh no, PLEASE KEEP PRAYING, keep meditating, and keep reflecting! The time is now  to take a serious look at how we our spending our most valuable assets: TIME + ENERGY + MONEY. Let’s get serious and be real with ourselves: What do we really want out of life? What steps are we taking to to make our dreams become reality?

 **Let’s make better investments in Ourselves, Our Families and Our Communities**

And ALLAh SWT says this in Surah Asr:

By the Time! Man is surely in loss, except those who believed and did good works, and exhorted one another to Truth, and exhorted one another to patience.

So I guess the real question is: What is your definition of success??? Maybe for Part II . . .
 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Thing About White Supremacy


The thing about white seupremacy is that it is  much farther reaching than most of us are willing to accept. In fact, it wrecks our brains to even fathom the possibilities, the outcomes, and the history of white supremacy. This could be a book, yeah there are many books on the subject already; books that go mostly untouched and unheard of from most people, especially my generation Xers, Yers and millinias.  

White Supremacy got Black people so twisted in the game that we think the most lowly insult ever attributed to our people is a term of endearment: nigga. White Supremacy got Muslim men the world over requesting “a fair-skinned wife.” White Supremacy got Indians spending $450 million per year on skin bleaching cream. It got women the world over praying that their child is light so that they may have a better life.

White Supremacy got us talking about how black is evil and white is pure – yes we still thinking and talking like this in 2013! Got little black girls who used to love their fluffy cottony hair looking at it with sudden disdain because their mommas complain and gripe while combing out their nappy hair, “Dang girl, your hair is too thick, too tight. I can’t wait to run a straightening comb through this stuff. You ain’t get this from my side of the family!”  Then she looks up at the television and sees Beyonce rocking that long blonde wig, swinging it in circles while the crowd ooohs and ahhhs. Then the little girl bows her head in shame as her stomach turns, feeling the seeds of self-hatred sprouting within her.

The thing about white supremacy is that is ain’t just about White people. It’s an ideology; a thought process. If a Mexican refuses service to a black man because of his skin color, can we call it white supremacy? Hell yeah! The most successful thing white supremacy has done is that it trained us to hate ourselves and hate anyone else who is different; different from white.

Since September 11, 2001, Muslims have really been feeling the heat. Especially immigrant Muslims. Before 9/11 they did quite fine just blending into the backdrop of our multicultural country. But after 9/11 white supremacy reared it’s ugly head. You see, the blueprint for hate has already been written, so all we need to do is dig it up whenever we feel fearful. Because that’s what it’s all about right? You heard the Tea Party loud and clear, “WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK!” They are scared as hell, and they should be. If total domination and supremacy over all is their sole goal, then yes, they can foresee their enevitable demise in a country and world that is becoming more Hispanic, more Asian, more Black, more Muslim, and more accepting of peoples differences.

But they still got that good ole' white supremacy blueprint to fall back on. And as long as a black woman only thinks she’s beautiful with her hair straight, and refer’s to herslf as “Celie” and “a slave” when her hair is in her natural God-given state.  As long as nigga is a term of endearment. As long as we are fearful of black men- especially the dark ones - especially the ones who are in groups - especially the ones who don’t say “how high?” when the master says “jump.” Yes… as long as all of that is still ingrained in us, white supremacy is still running the show.
As Celie from The Colored Purple said, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

 Arm yourselves with knowledge.... The truth shall set us free!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

CENSORSHIP: Setting Limits in a Media-Based Society


I have a confession to make: I LOVE BEYONCE. That’s right, I said it. What do I like about her, let’s see… everything! It’s her sexy dance moves, the upbeat rhythms and witty lyrics to her songs, and her captivating performances that put her on another level of divadom.  I even love the sexy outfits (even though I think they’d much rather be fit for a private bedroom setting). Oh yeah, if I hear a Beyoncé song off in the distance, inside my head I’m shaking and gyrating!
But if you know me even slightly, right now you have the confused look on your face. I often use her specifically as an example of everything us as women should not be. Especially black women. Especially Muslim women. I loathe the Youtube videos of little black girls wearing blonde wigs shaking their little booties to the Beyoncé beat. I detest the notion that it’s okay for parents to let their children idolize these performers who have nothing to offer young girls except self-loathing and premature sexuality.

We have to be careful. While I confess to liking a little Beyoncé while I’m at the gym or cleaning the house, I also have to realize she is not a suitable role model for me or my impressionable two little girls. Ever heard the saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” It’s so true! Playing grotesque music as well as showing inappropriate television programming is detrimental to say the least.

This post is not about bashing Beyoncé, but it is about taking control of the media in our lives. Media is everywhere. Even if you have no television, most likely you have a computer or a smartphone. Youtube.com is one of the most influential media sources in our lives today. For instance, how easy it is to go from watching a religious lecture to a risqué belly dancing contest? Only a couple clicks….

Imagine having a wonderful family who is God-conscience, values education, and practices good morals. Who could ask for anything more? But then one day for dinner you invite over a guest who is extremely attractive and charming, but they are dressed half-naked and cuss and are disrespectful; then they seductively whisper in your children’s ears that everything you have taught them is complete hogwash. Can you imagine a houseguest saying this at your dining-room table, “All I want for my birthday is a BIG BOOTY HO!” sigh… yes those are actual lyrics in a very popular song. How is this different than playing it on the radio or television?

Nowadays, you don’t even need cable to be subjected to sex, drugs, and foul language. There are advertisements for alcohol on the sides of city buses! Bottom line - We have to be proactive. We are in a war against commercialism, consumerism and an over-sexed culture: a culture that tells us being free means getting drunk and being sexually promiscuous: demeaning ourselves though scandalous dress and behavior. We are in a war to save our families and the stakes are high!

Saving ourselves and our families from the negativity will be no easy task. And guess what? No matter what we do – short of building a shack in the woods – we can’t dodge all of it. So what do we do? We medicate. What’s our medication? Spending quality time with our children and spouses, you know, an old fashioned walk around the block or board game. We gotta put good stuff in to get good stuff out. Read a book. Read one that will nourish your mind and your spirit, like these: TheHoly Qur’an, The Autobiography of Malcolm X,  The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergenceof Science and Spirituality by the Dalai Lama.

And one more thing: Don’t underestimate children, they comprehend and are far more aware than we think, even from infancy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Hijab Obsession Part 2: Social Media- Pulling Us Together or Tearing Us Apart?


It’s been a while since Hijab Obsession Part 1, but what can I say? I only write when I am inspired. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF SISTERS TEARING EACH OTHER UP ON FACEBOOK. Ok? Got me? It’s sickening. I usually friend any sister who sends me a request. Since I never post anything super-personal, I don’t mind building up my sister-to-sister connection. However, I am now rethinking the whole social media thing.

I logged on last night to see what people were saying about the election, and of course a lot of the Muslims were arguing about whether or not to vote. I expected that. However, as I scrolled down I see a sister’s post, “I am sick of seeing these sisters walking around with their niqab flipped up!” Then the comments poured on about the sisters who “know they ain’t right” wearing turbans or colors or this or that or blah blah blah.

My first thought was, Uh… America just voted in a new President and this is the best you have to post? Then I really felt disgusted that these sisters took time out their day to bash other sisters for what they looked like on the OUTSIDE. And it made me think, dang, I give ALL Muslim sisters salaams, are they thinking these things when they see me on the street? Do they think that “I know I ain’t right?”

Ok, so every judgment should eventually bring on some self-assessment and reflection: Am I this judgmental? Yes, I love all my sisters and want the best for them, but there was that sister wearing a hijab with a lime green short set over the summer. And I sure did call up one of my sisters and have a good laugh. SHAKE MY HEAD! This is not appropriate behavior of a believing woman- period.

We are not supposed to backbite ANYONE. But when it comes to our sisters and brothers, we are actually supposed to look the other way and make an excuse for them. Yes, we are supposed to educate them, but not in a way to embarrass to make them feel lesser. And guess what, you may not be the one who is qualified to educate them. Ever think about that? Here’s some suggestions of what you could do next time you get your abayas in bunch and are about to call up every sister you know to blast a brother or sister who, “know they ain’t right.” That’s right put down your devices, and think before you post!

Example: You see a brother walk into a bar: Say to yourself, “I bet that brother is going in there looking for someone.” Then forget you ever saw him.
Example: You see a sister who wears niqab at the masjid in some hot pink tight booty shorts: “As Salaamu Alaikum Sister! How are you these days? Want to come to my house for some jasmine tea? We can read Qur’an or just talk.” And this is the hard part: don’t tell anyone, whether she accepts your invite or not!  Then pray for her and for yourself.
Example: Someone on facebook says something you really can’t stand, instead of getting in a heating argument you either: 1- hide/delete them or, 2- Say, “Alhamdulillah, Allah knows best my sister. I love you for the sake of Allah. Masjid ____ holds classes on this subject every Sunday after taleem. Salaam!”
We are all striving together! Don’t forget that. We must ask ourselves: What would the Sahaba do?
"He who relieves a hardship of this Dunya (this earthly life) or a believer, Allah will relieve a hardship of the Day of Resurrection for him; he who makes it easy for an indebted person, Allah will make it easy for him in the Dunya and the Hereafter; he who covers a Muslim (his mistakes and shortcomings), Allah will cover him in the Dunya and the Hereafter; Allah will be in the slave 's need, as long as the slave is in his (believing) brother's need…"
 [Saheeh Muslim]
And Allah SWT says:


And when they hear AlLaghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk), they withdraw from it and say: “To us our deeds, and to you your deeds. Peace be to you. We seek not the ignorant.”
(Surah Al-Qasas: Verse 55)


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Islam: Where Would We Be Without It?


·      Question: Does The Koran* come off as tolerant of foreign peoples and religions Or do you detect seeds of intolerance within it? Obviously, various Islamic extremist groups have used the book to justify their repeated violence, from 1998 onwards.
* Koran is the spelling used in the textbook, The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. It should be noted the correct English transliteration accepted and used by English-speaking Muslims is Qur'an.
In an initial review of "The Koran," one might find it as sexist or intolerant of other religions. However, upon further research, it is clear that The Qur'an is a book that brought guidance and structure to many societies and people across the globe. If the book were intolerant or oppressive, Islam would not be the fastest growing religion in the world, practiced by over two billion Muslims worldwide.

The Koran came at a time in Arabian history where there were many idol worshipers. In Chapter 1, The Exordium, the scripture sets out the first and most important rule of Islam: There is no God, except for the One true God, proclaiming: “You alone we worship and You alone do we ask for help." A common misconception in Western society is that “Allah” is the “Muslim God” and Muhammad is the “Muslim Jesus.” But nothing could be farther from the truth. Allah is the same God of the Christians and the Jews, and Muhammad and Jesus are both considered prophets in Islam. If you ask a Muslim what religion the prophets Abraham or Moses or Noah were, they would say Muslim because a Muslim is a person who believes in the one true God, the God of All Mankind.

The next except from The Koran is Chapter 4: The Women. There are lots of rules and regulations laid out in this chapter. For instance, “Let not the rich guardian touch the property of his orphan ward; and let not him who is poor use more than a fair portion of it for its own advantage.” When Westerners talk about “Shari’a Law” the misconception is that it is some rule book the Muslims made up to oppress women and restrict society. Shari’a is no more than the rules and regulations that were laid out in the Qur’an to justly run society. This except is a perfect example of a small section of Shari’a law. This is a clear sign that the Koran is a protection for those who are oppressed and vulnerable.

Perhaps the most debated over ayat (verse) in the entire of The Koran is this one also from Chapter 4, The Women,

Men have the authority over women because God had made one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those who fear their disobedience, admonish them and forsake them beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.

At first read, this verse takes one aback. The words seem straight forward: Women are weaker than men, therefore they should be obedient, and if they disobey, punish them, even beat them if necessary! Whenever such strong statements are written, further research must be done. Upon researching many Islamic websites it is clear that Arabic is a very rich language and it is very hard to translate many words into other languages. “Beat” to English-speakers sounds very harsh, but just like the King James Version of the Bible, perhaps it should be considered that many things get lost in translation. This one small verse is used to label an entire population of Muslim men as misogynistic woman beaters, but sometimes one has to give leeway for misunderstandings.

The PBS documentary, Islam: an Empireof Faith: The Awakening and The Messenger were particularly eye-opening because they detailed the history and contribution the Islamic civilization made to the world:

“For the West, much of the history of Islam has been obscured behind a veil of fear and misunderstanding. Yet Islam’s history is deeply and surprisingly interwoven with Western civilization. It was Muslim scholars who reclaimed much of the ancient wisdom of the Greeks while much of Europe languished in the Dark Ages." (Empire of Faith)

Islamic scholars contributed math, science, and astrology to the world, when Europe was in their Dark Ages. Modern civilization owes much architecture, medicine, and literature to beginning in Islamic culture and society. Hospitals, the arches in churches, and mass recording of literature were all inventions of the Muslims around 1000 A.D. If this religion was full of terrorists, heretics, and fundamentalist, how could these advances been possible? It is obvious these people encompassed open minds and open hearts. After all, it was the Christian Crusaders sent by the Pope in Europe who acted as barbarians, burning towns to the ground, raping women and creating mayhem. And later, it was the fierce Mongols from Asia, who came to the East to conquer and destroy, but were overtaken by Islam and ended up spreading the religion to all of Asia. There is evidence of this today, being that there are more Muslims in Asia than any other continent in the world.

Islam is not a cult and it is not intolerant. Furthermore, anyone who might claim that it transformed into a violent religion as of latter times is misguided. The terrorists and fundamentalist make up a minute portion of the Muslims of the world. And even the misguided Muslims did not just become that way overnight: it could be argued that oppression and extreme poverty in the Middle East (and other countries around the world where there is drought and poverty like parts of Africa and Asia) became a breeding ground for anger and violence.
Whatever the reasons may be, it is important to clear up misconceptions so that Islamaphobia and hate towards Muslims does not continue to grow in the West. History can be used to teach the modern peoples about the contributions the Muslims made to the world and also to explain their rituals and beliefs, so that it is not considered to be strange or foreign. The Empire of Faith began its presentation with these words: “Islamic civilization has been one of humanities grandest achievements.” The people in the west need to know this and embrace it, so that further tensions can be quelled.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Preparing for Ramadan 2012: Learning to Forgive, Forget and Smile!

turn your frown upside down!
“It is He Who accepts repentance from His servants and pardons evil acts and knows what they do.” (Surat Ash-Shura, 25)

“The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with Allah. Certainly He does not love wrongdoers.” (Surat Ash-Shura, 40)

Is it not true that Allah has the capacity to forgive murderers, slanderers, and disbelievers if they find the right way and repent? Then why is it that we can hold grudges for weeks, years, and lifetimes? Why is it that we feel like we have the right to pass judgement on others with authority? Surely, this cannot be good for the heart.The burden of anger and resentment is so heavy on us! Oh Allah, Help us! We need to do better.

The Holy month of Ramadan is approaching. It will be a time for new beginnings: a time for worship, a time for gratitude and a time for reflection. How do we live our lives? Sometimes we are our own worst enemy... trudging around with pessimism and arrogance weighing heavy on our shoulders and our souls.

3 Tips to help you lighten your emotional burden before entering into Ramadan:

1. Let it slide- The sister who rolled her eyes when you gave her salaams... the maniac who cut you off in traffic... your mother when she way oversteps her bounds... the spouse who seems to dwell on the negative things... the brother who just don’t have his facts straight... the children (yes, I said it, sometimes we got to let it slide with them too) who are getting on your last nerve! Take a deep breath and let it go.

2. Make excuses for people- You make excuses for your own ill actions so you need to start pardoning other people you encounter as well. It is not good to judge every single thing someone says or does. Maybe they had a bad day. Maybe they are feeling hurt or ignored or unloved. Maybe they are ailing mentally or physically in secret, and here we go just assuming we know them up down and all around. A lot of people are in pain!

3. SMILE- Just smile.

“Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish.” (Qur’an, 7:199)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The War: Enough is Enough!


In the darkness of the Afghan night, an American solider went on a shooting massacre, killing 16 civilians for no apparent reason; most of them were children. In February, President Obama was apologizing for the “accidental” burning of Qur’ans and other religious material by American military troops. How can we forget the gruesome torture and abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib? Or the U.S. Marines who urinated on dead Afghan bodies? Is this war?

When is enough enough? Afghan students are staging demonstrations against the United States military occupation of their land. They don’t want us there and for good reason. After watching LinkTV’s “Iraq’s Secret War Files” (based on the biggest wikileaks release ever), I am ashamed as an American. Civilians-many of them children- are being killed all the time in Iraq and Afghanistan. The official count is over 60,000, but I would not be surprised if the actual count was much higher.

But it would be silly to blame the troops, because they are victims as well. Our troops are hyped up with propaganda and lured with huge bonuses is they go on a military tour. Then they are sent to a far-away dessert land with no training about the culture or traditions. They see their comrades killed and maimed. Many of them sustain injuries not only to their bodies, but to their minds, suffering of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). In 2010, thesuicide rate among soldiers was higher than the rate of those who had met their fate in combat.

The war in Afghanistan was started and continues on the premise of eradicating “terror” but have we become the terrorists?

**Please follow the links I provided. I don't make this stuff up, it's real!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

LOVE: A four letter word



Okay, I just realized it is Valentine’s Day. I don’t celebrate it or acknowledge it as a holiday but one can’t help having love on the mind when it’s on every channel, even my rebellious LinkTV. There are cheesy red hearts and chocolate sales in every grocery store.

So this is NOT a Valentine’s Day bashing blog like you might expect from me.

This is a blog about love and how it can change your life. When we think of love we tend to think of romantic love, and then after that, love for our parents and children. But there is another love, a broader love that can shift the earth:

Love for humanity.

There is so much hate nowadays. It’s spouting from the mouths of politicians and warlords and terrorists. It’s emitting from the thoughts and actions of everyday citizens. We shouldn’t do good because we feel sorry for others: that is not only insulting, but it does not inspire growth. We shouldn’t do it out of sympathy or guilt. We should do good deeds out of LOVE. Love for humanity. Love for our Creator. Love for ourselves.

So whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, there is one four letter word that should stay on your tongue and in your heart: LOVE

Friday, February 10, 2012

Global Citizenship: Whether You Like It or Not!



Child Labor in India. Dangerous pesticides in Brazil. Civil War in Somalia. Starvation in the Congo. Nuclear disaster in Japan. We pretend to care because we don’t want to sound ignorant or insensitive. We don’t want to be politically incorrect, but do we really care? Why should we?

As long as we eat blueberries grown in Peru and drink orange juice from Brazil… As long as we drive cars manufactured in Japan and pump oil into them from the Middle East… As long as we watch televisions and talk on phones made in South Korea … As long as we show off gold and diamonds dug up from the earth of West Africa… As long as our children play with toys and wear clothes labels “Made in China”… WE HAVE TO CARE.

There are over 1000 U.S. military bases in 38 countries around the world. Schools and hospitals in Afghanistan and Palestine are being bombed with ammunition marked “U.S.A.” Despite the media exposure, children and adults in West Africa are still losing lives and limbs working in mines for minimal wages so we can support our fetish for diamonds and gold.

How long will we continue to live life with our blinders on? You may not think you have a voice, but you do because one voice can inspire another voice and another until there are millions of voices demanding justice, transparency, and morality.

Do you want to know how your voice can be heard the loudest? With your dollars! Every U.S. dollar we spend will undoubtedly affect someone else in another part of the world. We are global citizens, whether we like it or not! And it’s about time we realize we have an obligation to our neighbors- whether they live in Mexico, Uganda, or Syria- to take responsibility for our words, our actions, and our economic power.

The next time you are watching the news and the biggest story is about celebrity so-and-so’s baby bump, or engagement, know that you are being numbed and distracted from what is really going on in the world. Certain powers would love it if we remained in our ignorant bliss. They would love you to think they know what they’re doing with YOUR TAX DOLLARS. They got it handled, right? Because us peasants are too dumb to really understand what’s going on at home and abroad anyway, right? WRONG!

I’m not telling you to jump in the nearest protest or picket line (although, it wouldn’t be such a horrible idea). I’m just saying: WAKE UP!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I WAS JUST JOKING!


This one will be short and sweet, or bitter if you just want to be stubborn and not accept the fact that you are not perfect, and neither am I. I remember the first time someone brought it to my attention that I perhaps had a problem with speaking before I thought. It was an acquaintance in high school, "Krisheena, sometimes you really put your foot in your mouth." I was speechless. I had never been told this before, but I took it seriously and at that moment, I vowed to work on improving that aspect of my personality.  Well, I am still a work in progress.

Recently I said some things to friend "just joking,” justifying it in my mind because I meant no harm.  However, there has been a dark cloud over my head ever since. Even though, it was just in “fun,” the things I said were not nice, and this is not acceptable behavior of a believing woman. A joke should never be at someone else’s expense. So, I have am making a resolution to be mindful of the things I say. I will pretend I have a filter in my throat that won't allow any hurtful words to pass through. We would like to think it's cool to make fun of others, but it’s not, GOD said so!   


“O you who believe! Let not a group ridicule another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it to insult one’s brother after having Faith” (Surah Hujuraat 49:11)

A common excuse used by people who like to make fun of others is, “I’m not laughing at you, I’m laughing with you!” However, we must ask ourselves, is the other person really laughing?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Hijab Obsession - Part I



I often will hear Muslim sisters (and brothers) say:

“I can’t stand to see sisters wearing niqab (the face veil.)”

“I can’t stand to see sisters wearing all black.”


And on the contrary, other sisters say…

“I can’t stand to see sisters wearing pants.”

“I can’t stand to see sisters wearing brightly colored clothes.”


Few Muslims would argue that the correct hijab for women is to cover everything except the face and hands, and not to wear anything that draws attention or flatters the figure. There might be some who will dispute this, but most Muslims and scholars subscribe to this understanding, even if they do not choose to adhere to it.

That being said, why is it that Muslim sisters are actually disgusted with one another and claim they can’t stand to see their fellow sisters dressed a certain way? We should be uplifting our sisters, instead of beating them down with our judgments and backbiting. Do you want to know what I can’t stand?

  • I can’t stand to see sisters in cliques; whispering and giggling while making other sisters feel alone.

  • I can’t stand to have a conversation about outer modesty, without considering also the inner modesty.

  • I can’t stand to see the Muslim community divided over something as simple as dress code.


Some of you will read this and say, why is she saying these things, is she undermining the importance of hijab? Quite the opposite, my sisters and brothers. I am simply trying to promote empathy and humility. When we make judgments of each other, we are creating a divide, and that is the last thing the Muslims need to do when we are living in a society that dislikes all of us, no matter how we dress.

I am also encouraging sisters and brothers to use proper adab (manners) when it comes to correcting each other. We are supposed to pull the misguided person aside and teach them the correct way. But before that, you have to check your own intention (why are you really correcting them?) and also check your own correctness (different schools of thought believe in different things, so just stick to the Qur’an and Sunnah) and have proof of your correction. However, I find many times we can lead by example, correcting our own misguided ways before approaching anyone else. If you talk about your sister/brother to others or say sarcastic remarks, your sin is worse than theirs.

Here is some fruitful guidance from the Qur’an:

And when they hear AlLaghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk), they withdraw from it and say: “To us our deeds, and to you your deeds. Peace be to you. We seek not the ignorant.”
(Surah Al-Qasas: Verse 55)

There is much more I’d like to share on this topic, so please check back for part II and perhaps part III, God-willing. Any good you can extract from this article is from Allah, and any bad from me. I pray that my intentions are good and that Allah will guide us on the straight path. AMEEN

Monday, November 7, 2011

ADDICTION



I am currently trying to help a dear friend of mine quit smoking. How can I help? I feel so helpless. She handed over her cigarettes to me and instead of throwing them away. So of course I felt compelled to do a photo-shoot with the long, slender cigs. Although the shots came out a bit fuzzy, it's interesting to look at these little white sticks and think about the great harm they have caused in so many people's lives. I do not understand what she is going through, but I am aware that nicotine addiction is one of the hardest to shake. Thank God, she is doing quite well with it. It’s obvious I’m a lot more nervous about the whole thing than the one who is giving up the habit.

So, this got me to thinking? What is addiction anyway? Why do we become addicted to things? We hear about all types of addictions in today’s society: nicotine, alcohol, narcotics, porn, food, caffeine, sex, gambling, internet, prescription medications… and the list goes on. When do bad habits and rituals cross the line into addiction? Why do we harmful things to our bodies and our sprits for a quick moment of satisfaction?

Addiction is defined on dictionary.com as, “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.”

So this is serious. We are talking trauma to the mind and body. ENSLAVEMENT! It is so easy for us to judge someone because they are an addict of something, but do we really understand the plight of someone who is so physically and/emotionally attached to something that they are willing to cause injury to themselves and their families. And who is to say we are not dealing with our own addictions…

Some of you are addicted to facebook.com as you read this blog. Others are addicted to shopping, and these addictions should be taken seriously. Take a look at these syptoms of addiction, and you might be surprised at how things can creep into your life and slowly take it over with you barely realizing.

Signs of addiction:
  • You’re neglecting your responsibilities at school, work, or home (e.g. flunking classes, skipping work, neglecting your children) because of your obsessive activity.
  • Your activity is getting you into legal trouble, such as arrests for disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, or stealing to support your habit.
  • Your obsession is causing problems in your relationships, such as fights with your partner or family members, an unhappy boss, or the loss of old friends.
  • You take do something that’s hurting you to avoid the feeling of withdrawal. If you go too long without it, you experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
  • You’ve lost control over your involvement. You may want to stop doing it, but you feel powerless.
  • Your life revolves around the activity. You spend a lot of time thinking about it, figuring out how and when you will partake in the activity again.
  • You’ve abandoned activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, and socializing, because of your drug use.
  • You continue the activity, despite knowing it’s hurting you.
  • Your partaking in the activity is pulling you away from what is good for you. You stopped praying and other spiritual activities that in the past had brought you peace and solace. 
I pray you are not dealing with any addictions, but if you are here are a few words of encouragement:
1.        You are worthy. Your worth is NOT based on your addiction.
2.        You can quit. You are a survivor. The addiction is weak and you are strong.
3.        You are loved. GOD LOVES YOU, so does anyone else really matter?
4.        Get help. Seek out someone you can trust or a group.
5.        Weed out the negative influences in your life. You deserve to be surrounded by positivity.

And if that wasn’t enough, here’s a word from your Lord, from the Glorious Quran:

They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say: There is great ithm (harm) in both. (2:219)

Believers! wine and games of chance, idols and divining arrows, are abominations devised by Satan. Turn away from them. (5:90)

Do not approach any immorality, open or covert. (6:151)