Sunday, December 31, 2006


Warning: Teenage angst alert! Please do not read if you have low tolerance for bitter moanings and melodramatic declarations against no doubt well-meaning but bumbling parents. Also, just this once, please refrain from offering excellent advice on the virtues of patience... this is simply a selfish, sulky, good ol' angsty teen rant, not a cry for help.

It's 'Eid night, and I feel... bored, lonely, restless. In short, miserable.

I've noticed recently that I seem to be in a constant state of... evolution, almost - intellectual evolution. Right up until now, I've always been satisfied with reading, with absorbing knowledge in anticipation of a great future.

But now... now, I want things to change. I want to stop reading so much, and I want to go out into the world and start *doing* things. Reading the news, listening to the adults talk about what's wrong with ourselves and with the world, makes me want to scream. I want to stop talking, stop reading, and just go out and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!!

I'm sick and tired of my passivity, and the passivity of others. By being so passive, by not doing anything, are we not indirectly responsible for the evil that's going on in the world?

My total lack of experience in the world frustrates me beyond belief. My parents, in their attempts to shelter me from the fitnah that surrounds us in this world, have perhaps been overzealous. As a result, my childhood was spent in isolation (hence my anti-social tendencies... like being downstairs typing this out while my Desi relatives socialize happily upstairs); my preteens were spent at the Dar (the Islamic centre my dad runs), and I was content; now in my adolescence I've been yanked away from my comfortable niche at the Dar and have been cruelly transplanted in a tiny backwater city where there isn't much to do and seemingly not much to learn from. As though the move to a new city wasn't devastating enough for me, it seems that my parents are insisting on making things worse by not recognizing how miserable I am here (even though it should be obvious - I've burst into tears often enough in the 6 months we've been here!) and waving off my loneliness as 'a phase'.

In my old city at least, I had the sisters from the Dar to help me out, to patiently listen to my passionate rants and convince my mother that I *wasn't* a silly, irresponsible child to be ignored, that I was a maturing young person with valid thoughts and opinions.

But now... now I truly am alone. Neither of my parents seem to realize that I need to be able to get out of the house, to be active, to be social with people other than the few giggly teenage girls I know from the Madrasah. They have no idea how desperate I am for the Dar women - or rather, they just don't think that my desperation is important.Telling them doesn't change anything. Once they've decided to think a certain way, nothing in the world will ever change their minds. Not even tears and tantrums from their sixteen year old daughter.

So I've given up on trying to convince them. But that just makes it worse for me. It makes me want to scream and cry and do something ridiculous and crazy just to make them realize how bad things are for me. Of course, I won't actually do something ridiculous and crazy, because I know from past experience how it'll turn out - the same as ever, for all my parents' talk of trying to make things better or whatever.

So. Back to my helplessness. It infuriates me. I've tried to be patient, but sometimes patience can really, really wear thin - like right now.

What does one do when one has been isolated from the world practically all one's life; when one's parents are totally stubborn and refuse to change their mind about anything, and having heart-to-heart talks don't change a thing; when one is virtually a prisoner on a (practically)desert island?

When dealing with others, my parents are fountains of wisdom and knowledge; when it comes to themselves and their children, they are deaf and blind to all reason.
They refuse to accept that I need to be able to experience life, to gain practical knowledge and wisdom in order to function in the real world. Yet it is they, who refuse to release me from my admittedly comfortable prison, who scorn me and my ideas, calling me naive and childish!

So here I am... helpless and useless... *Sigh* All right, I'll go to my room to tearfully bemoan my lot in life and leave you all in peace...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Yawm al-Arafah and... My Sweet Sixteen!!!!

Today is a great day... it is both Yawm al-Jumu'ah - Friday, the weekly 'Eid of the Muslims (for non-Muslims, Jumu'ah can also be described as the Muslims' Sabbath, sort of), and it is also Yawm al-Arafah, the 9th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah.

Fasting on the Day of Arafah

The ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah is the day of 'Arafah. It is the day when pilgrims stand on the plain of 'Arafah to pray. On this day, Muslims all over the world who do not witness the annual Hajj, should spend the day in fasting in preparation for the three days festivity following `Eidul Adha.

Abu Hafsah (raa) said the Prophet (saas) said: "Fasting on the day of 'Arafah absolves the sins for two years: the previous year and the coming years, and fasting on 'Ashura, (the tenth day) of Muharram atones for the sins of previous years." (Reported by Jama'ah except Bukhari and Tirmidhi)

In another hadith, the Prophet's wife Hafsah (raa) said: "Four things the Messenger of Allah never neglected: Observing fast on the day of 'Ashura, (on the tenth of Muharram), three days every month, and offering Fajr sunnah prayers early in the morning." (Muslim)

These ahadiths are proof that fasting on the tenth of Dhul-Hijjah, the day before `Eidul Adha was a lifelong practice of the Prophet (saas) as his wife reported.
There are some reports that fasting is prohibited on the day of 'Arafah. However, it must be understood that this refers to a person performing Hajj. If a person is on Hajj, there is no fast for him or her on the day of 'Arafah. That is undoubtedly a blessing for him because of the hardships of the pilgrimage.

In a hadith reported by Umm al-Fadl (raa) she said: "The companions doubted whether the Prophet was fasting on 'Arafah or not. She decided to prove to them that he was not, so she said, 'I sent to him milk, which he drank while he was delivering the Khutbah on 'Arafah.'" (Bukhari)

Prohibiting the pilgrim from fasting on these days is a great mercy for him, for fasting will exert undue hardship on the person performing the Hajj, while he is concerned with his pilgrimage. Above all, the pilgrim would not be fasting anyway because he is traveling.

Aside from that, guess what?! Today, I turn 16!!!!!!! We don't celebrate birthdays, and before I've never really cared about it, but today... well, today I'm "sweet sixteen", as they say, and I think feel a tiny bit more grown-up... :P

Being sixteen is... both exciting and sort of scary. I'm growing closer to the time that, insha'Allah, I will be considered an adult, someone capable of having opinions that will actually be heard and considered valid by others, someone who will be more able to do things that might help change the world. At the same time, I'm going to have a looooot more responsibilities and duties to attend to, and I can totally expect to hear more "You're a young lady now, act like it!" from my mom and aunts, lol... :P

By the way, 'EID MUBARAK, EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! May we all remember the story of Ibraheem and Isma'eel, and benefit from the lessons to be taken from it... and may you all have a wonderful 'Eid, full of food and fun and family, insha'Allah!!! :)

Your sister in Islam,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


My grandpa's okay! He's home again, too!!!!!!!!!! AL-HAMDULILLAAH!!!!!

He came home today... even though he had a really rought day yesterday - the doctors were worried he might even die - but AL-HAMDULILLAAH he got better really quickly and they sent him home this evening... subhan'Allah, wal-Hamdulillaah, w'Allahu akbar!!!!!!!

I'm so happy... al-Hamdulillaah... he's not 100% better, but it's a LOT better than being dead! Allahu akbar...

All right, I'm off to go pray 'Ishaa and thank Allah over and over again for His amazing blessings and gifts... Allahu akbar!!!!!

Your deliriously happy little sister in Islam,

Al-Muhyi: The Giver of Life

Fasbir Sabran Jameela
Have patience, a beautiful patience

JazakumAllahu khairan for all your du'aas and comforting words and reminders... may Allah reward you all!

The shock of my grandpa's heart attack, and his continuing illness has sort of worn off now, I
guess... I'm calmer now, no more crying... al-Hamdulillaah...

As you all have said, there's nothing to do now except trust in Allah, pray to Him, and have lots
and lots of patience. So, insha'Allah, that's what I shall endeavour to do from now on... :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Deleting Comments

Can anyone please tell me how to delete unwanted comments?

Oh, God.

My grandpa's gotten worse. He's got pneumonia now. All the adults are freaking out.

And I'm STILL not allowed to see him.

What do I DO? My father and grandma and aunt are all the hospital; my brothers are at school; my mum and I are alone here at home.
My mum seems to be fiddling around in the kitchen so as to have some sort of distraction; I'm at the computer listening to Sheikh Mishary al-Afasy's recitation of various surahs... my mind is blank, so I don't know which surah I should be listening to, which would give me the most comfort...

You know, this still seems so unreal. I can't believe that my grandpa is in hospital, breaths away from death. I haven't seen him since the heart attack. I can't imagine him helpless in the hospital bed.
All I can think of is how I saw him last - saying salaam to me on Sunday night as we left to go home, big and warm and smiling as I slung an arm around him in farewell, my mind half-distracted by something else, some trivial thing.

Will I never hug him again, hear him call me 'princess' again, smell him again? I love his smell... a mixture of cigarette smoke and 'itr (perfume) and his own unique smell... it's the smell that's always made me feel good since I was a spoiled little kid... Will I never lean against him as we watch the news together, or a cowboy movie, or one of those old elegant movies he used to love to watch?

Oh God, I'm crying...

I know that death is a natural part of life... that it happens to all of us... this isn't my first encounter with it, either - in my old city, I went to a couple janaazahs (funerals) of people we knew (actually, people my dad knew), and I always felt uncomfortable because I knew I should feel sad but I didn't really feel sad 'cuz their deaths didn't really affect me... and now... my grandfather! The only grandfather I know, 'cuz my mom's parents live in South Africa and I've never seen them.

I've been Dada's spoiled little girl since we first moved here to Canada... even when, a couple years ago, I had a crisis and things were pretty horrible for several months, and he was terribly disappointed in me, I was still his little princess... and now, he could very well be gone forever.

What would life without him be like?

No. I won't think of that now. I'll deal with it when it happens. For now... for now... oh God, I don't WHAT I should do for now, besides pray and trust in God...

Oh God, all I want to do before he dies is see him and hug him and smell him again...

You know what's scary? That I might never see him again, either in this world or in the Next. What if he goes to Heaven, but I don't?

Oh God, please, please, please...


I am cold. So cold. After crying, I feel empty and cold. And hungry.

Is this normal?

Monday, December 18, 2006

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,
This morning my mom woke me up to tell me that my grandfather had a heart attack last night.
He's in hospital now, apparently very sick. He's not allowed to have many visitors - just my grandma, and my aunt, and my dad - so I haven't been able to see him yet.

Please, PLEASE make du'aa for him, that he gets better really quickly!!!!!

Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji'oon.
To God we belong, and to Him we return.

Update: My dad just called to say that my grandpa has been stablized, and he should be sleeping now... subhan'Allah... it seems so unreal... when my mom told me about his heart attack this morning, the first thing I said was inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji'oon - but I was still calm and collected and for some reason I didn't feel anything, no grief or sorrow or anything. Even now, I haven't been able to shed a tear... like I said, it's unreal. Maybe it's because I haven't seen him yet.

I'm having all these crazy thoughts... like, what if he dies? How will I feel? Will I burst into tears and feel as though the world is about to end? Or, as usually happens when I feel grief, will I go all silent and cold inside and reflect upon it in a freakily logical way, trying to ignore the ache in the pit of my stomach?

I just realized that for all the time I've spent with my grandfather, for all that I'm his favourite grandchild - his princess, as he liked to call me - I honestly don't know much about his history, just a few bits and pieces. I don't know about his childhood... his adolescence... goodness, I don't even know how he met my grandmother!

There's absolutely nothing I can do right now. I can't go visit him in the hospital because he's not allowed many visitors. I should be doing my schoolwork, but I can't really concentrate on it. So instead I'm surfing the 'Net... reading the latest posts of my favourite Muslim blogs... and you know what's scary? I can still smile and laugh and be distracted by what they have to say. My grandfather is in hospital, and I can let myself be distracted by trivial things. It seems so... wrong...

Ya Allah... whether You decide to let him remain on this earth for a while longer, or if You call for his return... please, let whatever happen, be for the best. Please, dear God, grant my patience and strength and let my whole family be able to get through this... especially my grandmother... please, please, please!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lights, Camera... ACTION!

Most of the time, when a group of Muslims get together and start talking about stuff like reform and activism, they usually conclude with saying that they need to create an organization of some sort. As a result, we have many, many Muslim organizations - CAIR, ISNA, ICNA, to name a few; and of course there are a zillion and one other such organizations out there.

While organizations and committees are all well and good, I don't think that they're so absolutely neccessary in order for we Muslims to bring about reform within our societies (note that I say reform of SOCIETIES, not reforming ISLAM). I think that we place too much importance on these organizations, and the big titles that come of being members of such organizations, instead of truly focusing on what we should be doing: improving ourselves, and improving our Muslim communities.

Yes, organizations are an excellent way of doing things for the Muslim communities. But they are NOT absolutely necessary. To initiate change of any sort, all that is needed is a will, and then insha'Allah there will be a way. It will start with one person - just one! - and by the will of Allah it can spread throughout the earth. Start also with the absolute bare basics, and don't worry about the really big issues (like global warming and peace on earth).
After all, isn't that what happened with Islam?

I think that right now, the absolute BEST way to do anything for our Muslim communities is for US, as individuals, to devote ourselves whole-heartedly for the sake of Allah and dedicate our time and efforts to doing whatever little we can do.

We must begin by educating ourselves. Most of us know much less about Islam than we should – than we need. How many of us really know the basics of Islam? The true meaning of them? How many of us know the conditions of the shahaada? How many of us know the correct way of performing the salaah, according to the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Our Islamic education is something that each and everyone of us is responsible - but for adults, and subsequently parents, it is even more so. The shaping of the next generation is in your hands. Arise, O people, and fulfil your obligations to Allah and to the Muslim Ummah!
Keep in mind also that 'Islamic education' does NOT only refer to sending your kids off to the Madrasah once a week. It means instilling Islamic values in your child/ren at HOME, enforcing Islamic rules at HOME, abiding by those Islamic rules yourself.

As with pretty much everything else, we have to begin with OURSELVES, and work from there. Of course, Jihad an-Nafs - the struggling and striving against our own whims and desires and suchlike - is a lifelong thing, so while we're engaged in it we should also be doing other things.

Here's what I propose:

That each of us sit down and have a good long think. First, let's look at ourselves, let's evaluate ourselves. Be brutally honest. What are our faults? Our weak points? Things that we should be improving within ourselves? And then, either draw up a plan, or make internal resolutions to start dealing with those things, starting NOW.

After that, I think we should also try to evaluate the conditions of our respective Muslim communities. No doubt we'll be able to find out plenty of things that we'll take issue with - but the hard part then is, trying to figure out what WE can do about it.

It could be something very small - volunteering to clean the Masjid once or twice a week - but extend to doing things like volunteering at the madrasah or special events and programs, or helping out new Muslims, or whatever. See what your skills and strengths are, and see what you can do with them to help out your Muslim community.

It's time for US, as INDIVIDUALS, to stop complaining about the problems we Muslims have, and to start DOING something about it!

Having been quite involved with things at my old Islamic centre, and even in this new city I'm helping out my dad with the stuff he's hoping to start up here insha'Allah, I know just how difficult it is when a small group of people are burdened with the task of doing EVERYTHING, both big and small - from cleaning the toilets to organizing conferences. You have no idea how much a helping hand is appreciated!

So PLEASE, I beg of you, for the sake of Allah, PLEASE go out and do whatever little you can for the Muslim Ummah! Start with yourself, and your home, and then with your local Masjid or Islamic centre. It's the small things that will lead to the big things... so PLEASE, pretty please with a cherry on top, come on and let's do something already!!!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006


As I sit here behind my laptop, huddled within my sweater and typing away furiously, outside I can see the winds bend over nearly backward from the extremity of the wind's rage, which expresses itself also with howls and shrieks and other indescribable noises; the glass windows that allow me to see outside look as though they are just barely holding together as the rain slams against their panes... the weirdest thing is that it's SUNNY! The sun is shining brightly even in the midst of this great storm...

Resisting the urge to crawl under my bed and stay there, I decided instead to see what the Qur'an has to say about winds and storms... With the help of the USC-MSA's Qur'an search feature on their website, I got the following results (I chose ones that seemed relevant):


Chapter 3, Verse 116 & 117:

Those who reject Faith,- neither their possessions nor their (numerous) progeny will avail them aught against Allah: They will be companions of the Fire,-dwelling therein (for ever). What they spend in the life of this (material) world may be likened to a wind which brings a nipping frost: It strikes and destroys the harvest of men who have wronged their own souls: it is not Allah that hath wronged them, but they wrong themselves.

Chapter 14, verse 18:
The parable of those who disbelieve in their Lord: their actions are like ashes on which the wind blows hard on a stormy day; they shall not have power over any thing out of what they have earned; this is the great error.

Chapter 17, verses 66 - 69:
Your Lord is He Who speeds the ships for you in the sea that you may seek of His grace; surely He is ever Merciful to you. And when distress afflicts you in the sea, away go those whom you call on except He; but when He brings you safe to the land, you turn aside; and man is ever ungrateful. What! Do you then feel secure that He will not cause a tract of land to engulf you or send on you a tornado? Then you shall not find a protector for yourselves.

Or, do you feel secure that He will (not) take you back into it another time, then send on you a fierce gale and thus drown you on account of your ungratefulness? Then you shall not find any aider against Us in the matter.

Chapter 30, verses 50 & 51:
Look then at the signs of Allah's mercy, how He gives life to the earth after its death, most surely He will raise the dead to life; and He has power over all things. And if We (but) send a Wind from which they see (their tilth) turn yellow,- behold, they become, thereafter, Ungrateful (Unbelievers)!

Chapter 33, verse 9:

O you who believe! call to mind the favor of Allah to you when there came down upon you hosts, so We sent against them a strong wind and hosts, that you saw not, and Allah is Seeing what you do. (I think this refers to the Battle of Badr, correct?)

Chapter 42, verse 32 - 33:
And among His Signs are the ships, smooth-running through the ocean, (tall) as mountains. If it be His Will He can still the Wind: then would they become motionless on the back of the (ocean). Verily in this are Signs for everyone who patiently perseveres and is grateful.

Insha'Allah, we'll take these as important reminders to keep in mind and benefit us...

Friday, December 08, 2006

A United Muslim Ummah: Idealists' Vision, or Possible Reality?

Once I thought it could be a possible reality. Now, I think it more of an idealists' vision - and I am one of those idealists.

I guess it's both.

Right now, Muslims in one city - never mind a country - can hardly agree on anything; the idea of all the Muslims in the world truly united is almost laughable... that is, for those who are not already weeping because of it.

Last year, I spent many a night dreaming of how my friends and I would go around the world, giving Da'wah and uniting the Muslim Ummah, getting them to set aside their differences and just embrace each other with brotherly/ sisterly love.Now, I spend my nights trying to figure out how to unite our tiny little Muslim community on this island city. Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa billah! I couldn't believe it - such a small number of people, yet even so they have such differences between them, such division.

Honestly, it seems that we Muslims are just so... childish. Selfish and greedy and suspicious and argumentative. Constantly complaining, constantly fighting each other, about the smallest things. Whether you move your finger in tashashhud or not, how you move it, can lead to blood feuds (okay, I'm exaggerating there, but you know what I mean).

And, yeah, I know that differences of opinion are allowed in Islam (within reasonable limits, of course), and that they're a sign of Islam's flexibility as opposed to rigidity, and should be used as a way to progress in our thinking, and so on - but in today's times, differences of opinions are not used or taken advantage of in a positive manner, as a means of showing the tolerance of Islam, but instead as things that divide the Muslims rather than unite them.
And that's what's so frustrating - that there is a way that we are supposed to act and behave, but that we act in a manner almost totally opposite to the Islamic ideal.

Those who are trying to teach the people, trying to nudge them in the right direction, are having an extremely hard time of it, and - so it seems, anyway - little success. Yes, I know that insha'Allah they're being rewarded for their hardwork, but even so... for once, I would like to see some real results, something big, something solid, something that will matter in the grand scheme of things.

Unity is something that is heavily emphasized in Islam - the very foundation of al-Islam, Tawheed, means unity, the unity of God. The unity of Muslims as an Ummah is something that is extremely important, something that we're supposed to constantly work towards. Yet, is the unity of the Ummah something that is possible?
No, wait, perhaps I should rephrase that. The unity of the Ummah IS something that is possible, because we know that when the Mehdi and the Messiah come, when Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah and 'Eesa ibn Maryam appear, the Muslims WILL be united under them. So what I really mean to say is: Is the unity of the Muslim Ummah at all possible BEFORE the Mehdi and the Messiah arrive?

I really, really hope so. But I rather doubt it. Human nature ensures that each and every one of us has different opinions on different issues, and that we will often fight each other simply to prove how 'right' we are - even when we're wrong.

To be united on a single issue is possible - we have plenty of examples of that, amongst both Muslims and non-Muslims. However, to be united under the banner of Islam, which encompasses too many issues to count, is a different thing altogther. Different madhaahib, different personal opinions, different cultural and intellectual backgrounds: these all contribute to disagreements, which, in large groups, can result in furious and heated arguments; which in turn can become bitter feuds and create schisms.

Is this our fate, then? Are we destined to continually struggle and to continually fail? To try and unite, but even as unification is attempted the seeds of division are being sowed? Is our only hope that of the Mehdi and the Masih (Messiah)?

Yet even if it is so... that doesn't mean we can just give up and declare defeat. We've still got to keep working hard, keep doing whatever little we can to help the Muslim Ummah... because this is part of our great Jihaad, the Jihad of the Nafs (of the Self)... we need to fight the evil and wrongdoing within ourselves, and then within our families, and then our Muslim communities...

Thinking of this makes my heart ache... I like to be a person of action and results. Small victories please me, but it is the thought of the grand success at the end of it all that motivates me. Shall I have to learn to be content with small victories on this Earth, and look forward to grand success only in the Hereafter?

Rabbanaa aatinaa fid-Dunyaa hasanah, wa fi'l Aakhirati hasanah, wa qinaa 'athaab an-Naar!
Our Lord! Grant us good in this world and good in the life to come and keep us safe from the torment of the Fire! (Qur'an 2:201)

Rabbanaa afrigh 'alaynaa sabran wa tawaffanaa muslimeen!
Our Lord! Pour out on us patience and constancy, and make us die as those who have surrendered themselves unto You! (Qur'an 7:126)

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Majlis Cafe

The Majlis Cafe is something that I've been dreaming about for a while... one day, insha'Allah, in between studying Islam, being involved in Islamic social work and activism, and dabbling in politics, I want to own and operate a cafe.

But not any old cafe, oh no! It would be an Islamic cafe. It would be a wonderful little place, not too big and not too small, but cozy and roomy at the same time. The theme would be medieval Middle-Eastern, reflecting the beautiful architecture and decor of the past, like the stuff you see in Orientalist paintings.

Being an Islamic cafe, of course there will be two sides - one for the men, one for the women. For the men's side, I'm thinking that the colour themes should be rich crimsons and purples with delicate gold filigree. There will not be tables and chairs, but instead there will be large cushions scattered around (particularly against the walls) and some low tables (the type you sit cross-legged at) upon which to dine.

For the women's side, I was thinking of pastel colours, as well as hanging up gauzy silks and sheer fabrics on the walls and from the ceiling... I know, it sounds so stereotypical and Orientalist, but I have a weakness for that sort of thing.

Food would be mainly Arab things, sweets and snacks and beverages... baclawah, stuffed grape leaves (my absolute FAVOURITE food ever!), qahwah and shai... that sort of thing, y'know?

My favourite part, however (besides the decor), is what I have planned in terms of an intellectually and artistically stimulating environment. I want scholars, poets, writers, and artists to grace the floors of my majlis. Duroos, halaqas, Qur'an recitation, poetry readings, book readings, art displays (100% halaal art, of course!), and political discussions shall be sustenance for our souls and morsels for our minds just as the delicious food whipped up by my amazing chefs (what do you call a chef in Arabic?) shall appease our appetites.

Hmmmmmm... anyone ready to invest in advance? ;) :P

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The West
The Midland
The Inland North
The Northeast
The South
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quebec: Nation Within Canada

House of Commons Passes Quebec Nation Motion

Forgive me my ignorance, but can someone tell me just what Quebec being called a nation is going to do?
It's all over the news, but I don't get it... what's the whole point of it all? Quebec is now officially 'a nation within a united Canada' - but what does this mean? How does it affect Quebec, and Canada?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Inspiring Teenagers - How Do You Do It?!

The time has come. In my old city, it was something I only speculated about with my wise mentors and friends... I looked at it as something that would occur in the future, after graduation or something. But no, it seems that is not what Allah has planned for me.

The time has come for me to take on the mantle of leadership: My role is that of dealing with the young Muslimahs here in this new city of mine.

It's something I look upon with a mixture of anticipation and dread, of hope and of fear. It's a chance for me to start doing something for this Ummah, however small a thing it may be.

But... what if I fail? What if I make terrible mistakes, horrible blunders - in short, what if I screw up?!
Yes, yes, I know what I'm supposed to do... close my eyes, take a deep breath, and put my trust in Allah. Yet those doubts and fears remain... it's only human, I guess.

Anyway... aside from all the insecurities, I have a bigger question: How am I going to do it?! How do you inspire teenagers? How do you inspire them to dedicate themselves to their religion, to concentrate their efforts on learning about Islam, understanding it, applying it, and then doing whatever they can to help the Muslim Ummah (which needs all the help it can get)?

There's another problem, too. Even though I'm a teenager, I'm on a completely different wavelength than them, and I can't relate to them. The things they're interested in are totally different from my own hobbies and fields of interests.
It's basically boys, gossip, and movies vs. religion, politics, and randomness.

See the difference?

The first time I met the teen girls at the Masjid, I was immediately uncomfortable. First, by the fact that they were teen girls. Sounds weird, I know, seeing as how I'm a teen girl myself. But at home, in my old city, I had only a few friends my age, and I feel infinitely more comfortable around adults, because I practically grew up with them and they're who I grew up hanging out with anyway.

The conversation was awkward, too. Music, movies, boys, and gossiping about girls at school... that's all they talked about. Nothing else. So there I was, sitting against the wall all alone, wishing desperately that I was back home with my beloved mentors discussing something serious.

So that's the big problem... we're totally different from each other. They're typical teenage girls; whereas it seems that I am very atypical indeed. I've no idea how to make them interested in the stuff I am interested in; how to... well, recruit them, as it were.

Then there's also the issue of commitment: from past experiences, I know very well how people will say something, promise to do something - and then not do it at all, their excuses being "I was busy". And the thing is, they are busy... they go to public school, they've got their own friends and lives outside of the masjid and madrasah... whereas I don't, and therefore have plenty of time to dream about fixing up the Ummah, starting with the city I'm in right now.


Really, what am I to do? I know what I want to do, I know how to do what I want to do... but I'll require people to help me out, and that's the problem: how to get those people to help out.

When I posted this on, the responses I got basically said two things: make things fun, and then just wait for them to grow up enough to care.

I get the first point - and it's what we were going to do, anyway - but the second thing frustrates me... I hate waiting, and besides, who's to say that they'll care even when they grow up? Isn't the time to teach them about the important stuff NOW, not later? What if they get distracted later, or forget about Islam until it fades away to something cultural for them? I have seen it happen before, and it's something that scares me to death.
And, of course, how do we know we're even going to live long enough to grow up?

Perhaps the answer IS to just work slowly for now and focus on how fun Islam can be, and then sit and wait...but I find the prospect of having to wait for them to grow up frustrating. I need to be able to do something NOW. I honestly feel like I'm going to go crazy if I can't do anything intellectually stimulating anytime soon...

I need your advice, people!

Your little sister in Islam,

Thursday, November 23, 2006

You are 100% Canuck!

You rock, you are an almighty Canadian through and through. You have proven your worthiness and have won the elite prize of living in a country as awesome as Canada. Yes I know other countries think they are better, but we let them have that cuz we know better than they do, eh?

How Canadian Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Heehee, I'm really getting into these quizzes... :P

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
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Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
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The Courtyard

Monday, November 20, 2006

British MP Slams Harper

Carly Weeks, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, November 20, 2006

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper's foreign policy strategy is a joke and is causing Canada to be hated around the world, British politician George Galloway said Monday.

The notorious member of parliament, known for his outspoken views against the Iraq war, said Harper's actions at the APEC summit in Hanoi show he lacks diplomacy skills and doesn't understand Canada's place in the world.
Harper had a difficult time arranging a meeting with the Chinese president, which many experts said was a snub for the government's continued criticism of China's foreign policy.

"The idea of Canada threatening China is absurd," Galloway said at an event sponsored by the Syrian Canadian Club. "The whole point of politics is to talk to each other, even if you hate each other."

Galloway, who used to be a Labour MP, is now a member of the left-wing RESPECT, the Unity Coalition. He is wrapping up a four-day tour of Canada, which included stops in Toronto and Montreal, where he is spreading the message about his opposition to Canada's role in Afghanistan and its relationship with Israel.

Galloway also weighed in on Canada's Liberal leadership contest, saying that "Anyone but Ignatieff" is a common slogan in British politics.

© CanWest News Service 2006


I find that pretty amusing, myself. George Galloway certainly has a way with words, as has been demonstrated numerous times (I'm sure everyone remembers his appearance on SKY TV - or whatever it was - lashing out at Israel while the anchorwoman desperately tried to shut him up); although I wonder - will Stephen Harper care at all? Will he react in any way to Mr. Galloway's comments?
In any case, Harper deserves it. I really, really don't like him, and can only hope that he's somehow kicked out of office sometime soon.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Islam and Environmentalism

Recently, I've started thinking more about the environment. Every day, we hear more about climate change, about forests being destroyed for logging, about wild animals venturing into towns and cities seeking food because their terrority is steadily shrinking as human communities begin to expand... it's so very sad.

Anyway, being me, I couldn't help but start thinking the Islamic viewpoint on all of this... basically, what does Islam have to say about the environment?

I *was* going to write up something about it, but I found this excellent article instead:

Prophet Mohammed: A Pioneer of the Environment
Fransesca De Chatel

“There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift [for which there is great recompense].” [Al-Bukhari, III:513].

The idea of the Prophet Mohammed as a pioneer of environmentalism will initially strike many as strange: indeed, the term “environment” and related concepts like “ecology”, “environmental awareness” and “sustainability”, are modern-day inventions, terms that were formulated in the face of the growing concerns about the contemporary state of the natural world around us.

And yet a closer reading of the hadith, the body of work that recounts significant events in the Prophet’s life, reveals that he was a staunch advocate of environmental protection. One could say he was an “environmentalist avant la lettre”, a pioneer in the domain of conservation, sustainable development and resource management, and one who constantly sought to maintain a harmonious balance between man and nature. From all accounts of his life and deeds, we read that the Prophet had a profound respect for fauna and flora, as well as an almost visceral connection to the four elements, earth, water, fire and air.

He was a strong proponent of the sustainable use and cultivation of land and water, proper treatment of animals, plants and birds, and the equal rights of users. In this context the modernity of the Prophet’s view of the environment and the concepts he introduced to his followers is particularly striking; certain passages of the hadith could easily be mistaken for discussions about contemporary environmental issues.

Three Principles

The Prophet’s environmental philosophy is first of all holistic: it assumes a fundamental link and interdependency between all natural elements and bases its teachings on the premise that if man abuses or exhausts one element, the natural world as a whole will suffer direct consequences. This belief is nowhere formulated in one concise phrase; it is rather an underlying principle that forms the foundation of all the Prophet’s actions and words, a life philosophy that defined him as a person.

The three most important principles of the Prophet’s philosophy of nature are based on the Qur’anic teachings and the concepts of tawhid (unity), khalifa (stewardship) and amana (trust).

Tawhid, the oneness of God, is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith. It recognizes the fact that there is one absolute Creator and that man is responsible to Him for all his actions: “To God belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth, for God encompasses everything [4:126].” The Prophet acknowledges that God's knowledge and power covers everything. Therefore abusing one of his creations, whether it is a living being or a natural resource, is a sin. The Prophet considered all of God’s creations to be equal before God and he believed animals, but also land, forests and watercourses should have rights.

The concepts of khalifa, stewardship, and amana, trust, emerge from the principle of tawhid. The Qur’an explains that mankind holds a privileged position among God’s creations on earth: he is chosen as khalifa, “vice-regent” and carries the responsibility of caring for God’s earthly creations. Each individual is given this task and privilege in the form of God’s trust. But the Qur’an repeatedly warns believers against arrogance: they are no better than other creatures. “No creature is there on earth nor a bird flying with its wings but they are nations like you [6:38]”; “Surely the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of man; but most people know not [40:57]”.

The Prophet believed that the universe and the creations in it – animals, plants, water, land – were not created for mankind. Man is allowed to use the resources but he can never own them. Thus while Islam allows land ownership, it has limitations: an owner can, for example, only own land if he uses it; once he ceases to use it, he has to part with his possession.

The Prophet recognized man’s responsibility to God but always maintained humility. Thus he said: “When doomsday comes, if someone has a palm shoot in his hand, he should plant it,” suggesting that even when all hope is lost for mankind, one should sustain nature’s growth. He believed that nature remains a good in itself, even if man does not benefit from it.

Similarly, the Prophet incited believers to share the earth’s resources. He said: “Muslims share alike in three things – water, herbage and fire,” and he considered it a sin to withhold water from the thirsty. “No one can refuse surplus water without sinning against Allah and against man” [Mishkat al Masabih].

The Prophet’s attitude towards sustainable use of land, conservation of water and the treatment of animals is a further illustration of the humility of his environmental philosophy.

Sustainable Use of Land

The earth has been created for me as a mosque and as a means of purification.” [Al-Bukhari I:331] With these words the Prophet emphasizes the sacred nature of earth or soil, not only as a pure entity but also as a purifying agent. This reverence towards soil is also demonstrated in the ritual of tayammum, or “dry wudu” which permits the use of dust in the performance of ritual purification before prayer when water is not available.

The Prophet saw earth as subservient to man, but recognised that it should not be overexploited or abused, and that it had rights, like the trees and wildlife living on it. In order to protect land, forests and wildlife, the Prophet created inviolable zones known as hima and haram, in which resources were to be left untouched. Both are still in use today: haram areas are often drawn up around wells and water sources to protect the groundwater table from over-pumping. Hima applies particularly to wildlife and forestry and usually designates an area of land where grazing and woodcutting are restricted, or where certain animal species are protected.

The Prophet not only encouraged the sustainable use of fertile lands, he also told his followers of the benefits of making unused land productive: planting a tree, sowing a seed and irrigating dry land were all regarded as charitable deeds. “Whoever brings dead land to life, that is, cultivates wasteland, for him is a reward therein.” Thus any person who irrigates a plot of “dead”, or desert land becomes its rightful owner.

Conservation of Water

In the harsh desert environment where the Prophet lived, water was synonymous to life. Water was a gift from God, the source of all life on earth as is testified in the Qur’an: “We made from water every living thing” [21:30]. The Qur’an constantly reminds believers that they are but the guardians of God’s creation on earth and that they should never take this creation for granted: “Consider the water which you drink. Was it you that brought it down from the rain cloud or We? If We had pleased, We could make it bitter” [56:68-70].

Saving water and safeguarding its purity were two important issues for the Prophet: we have seen that his concern about the sustainable use of water led to the creation of haram zones in the vicinity of water sources. But even when water was abundant, he advocated thriftiness: thus he recommended that believers perform wudu no more than three times, even if they were near to a flowing spring or river. The theologian El-Bukhari added: “The men of science disapprove of exaggeration and also of exceeding the number of ablutions of the Prophet.” The Prophet also warned against water pollution by forbidding urination in stagnant water.

The Treatment of Animals:

If anyone wrongfully kills even a sparrow, let alone anything greater, he will face God’s interrogation” [Mishkat al Masabih]. These words reflect the great reverence, respect and love that the Prophet always showed towards animals. He believed that as part of God’s creation, animals should be treated with dignity, and the hadith contains a large collection of traditions, admonitions and stories about his relationship to animals. It shows that he had particular consideration for horses and camels: to him they were valiant companions during journey and battle, and he found great solace and wisdom in their presence as the following tradition reveals: “In the forehead of horses are tied up welfare and bliss until the Day of Resurrection.”

Even in the slaughter of animals, the Prophet showed great gentleness and sensitivity. While he did not practice vegetarianism, the hadiths clearly show that the Prophet was extremely sensitive to the suffering of animals, almost as though he shared their pain viscerally. Thus he recommends using sharp knives and a good method so that the animal can die a quick death with as little pain as possible. He also warned against slaughtering an animal in the presence of other animals, or letting the animal witness the sharpening of blades: to him that was equal to “slaughtering the animal twice” and he emphatically condemned such practices as “abominable”.

It is impossible to do justice to the full scope and significance of Prophet Mohammed’s environmental philosophy in this short article. His holistic view of nature and his understanding of man’s place within the natural world pioneered environmental awareness within the Muslim community.

Sadly, the harmony that the Prophet advocated between man and his environment has today all too often been lost. As we face the effects of pollution and overexploitation, desertification and water scarcity in some parts of the world and floods and violent storms elsewhere, it is perhaps time for the world community as a whole, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, atheists and agnostics, to take a leaf out of the Prophet’s book and address the current environmental crisis seriously and wisely.


Wasn't that an awesome article? Masha'Allah!

As Muslims, this should impress upon us the importance of taking care of the environment. Don't litter; recycle; ride your bike or take the bus; conserve energy; help save the whales/bears/coral reefs/whatever else you can think of!

So now, go out there and do your part.
May Allah keep us all upon as-Siraatul-Mustaqeem, the Straight Path, and grant us success in this world and in the Hereafter. Ameen!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Behold the Islamic Revolution of (my city’s name)!

Okay, not really. But something like an Islamic Revival is in the works, insha’Allah.

This new city of mine is a relatively small one, with an even smaller Muslim community. When my parents came back from Saudi after my father graduated from the Islamic univeristy, they moved here to be with my grandparents. My dad and some of the local Muslim dudes first rented out a house to serve as a musallah, and then managed to scrape up the funds to buy the place and turn it into a Masjid proper. During that time, they held Islamic duroos and halaqas, and my dad begun a sort of madrasah (Islamic school) for the Muslim kids. Soon after, however, we moved away and the duroos and madrasah stopped and never really started up again. The Muslim community here has spent the last 9 years dormant, just barely keeping the masjid running.

Now that we’re back, we’re planning on changing things for the better, insha’Allah. First, bringing back the madrasah. Only this time it’s going to be more formal, and bigger. Before it was a weekend thing for a bunch of little kids; now it’s going to be held 3 days a week, after school, for 2 hours, for kids up to age 18. My father has set things up already; he held the first class yesterday. Apparently quite a few people have signed up already, al-Hamdulillaah.

After that, we’re planning on having duroos and halaqas again for the adults, and regular programs for the Muslim youth, stuff that’ll be both fun and Islamically educational. We’re pretty much modeling it on the Islamic centre my dad used to run in my old city (which will henceforth be referred to as the Dar).

When it was Ramadan and we went to the Masjid for Taraweeh, I was pretty shocked at what I saw. It was sad, it really was, and I found it shocking because of what I was used to at the Dar. When I told my parents, they said that this was exactly the reason we were here – so that we could change things for the better, insha’Allah.

I can’t wait for things to start getting up and running. I miss my old city like mad, mostly the Dar ‘cuz that’s where I met all my friends, and listened and learnt at the feet of the wise women who were like second mothers to me, and studied Arabic, and pretty much just hung out and had fun… fond memories, indeed.
In the four to five months we’ve been here, I’ve been going crazy. The Masjid has NO regular duroos, no programs for the youth, nothing. It’s dead as a tomb most of the time, except for once a week on Jumu’ah (Fridays). People seem to only wake up during Ramadan, when they stumble in to pray Taraweeh, and then after ‘Eid day, they seem to vanish again.

The thing that I hate is the preparation, and waiting. I can’t *do* anything. I’m the type of person who loves being a part of the action, and it frustrates me to no end having to sit and wait for the adults to finish with all the paper work and setting up and stuff. Gah. What’s worse is that even with the Islamic school getting set up, we’re still going to have wait ‘till more people get to know us and get used to us, before we can start doing the stuff that we used to do at the Dar. Plus there’s stuff like resources (or rather, lack thereof) that’ll make things harder to do here than they were at the Dar. Even though the Dar was a relatively small place and the people who attended weren’t exactly wealthy (mostly working-class people, and several single parents as well), we had enough people that we could arrange regular activities for both adults and youth.
Here, there is a smaller population and even fewer resources, and all this is going to serve to make things even more difficult. Meh.

But al-Hamdulillaah. And insha’Allah, with lots of time and effort, we’ll eventually get something good going. Perhaps not the Islamic Revolution I’ve been dreaming about, but something that will benefit the Muslim community nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Airline Announcements

I got this in my inbox... Faraz, this is for you! :D

All too rarely, airline attendants make an effort to make the in flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

On a Southwest flight (SW has no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

On a Continental Flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please ma ke sure it's something we'd like to have."

"Thank you for flying Delta Business Express.: We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight 245 to Tampa ...: to operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling.: Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with his. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."

"Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the unlikely event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments." *

"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

And from the pilot during his welcome me ssage: "Delta Airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City . The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking : I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo , Texas , on a particularly windy and bumpy day, during the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo . Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard.: The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment.: Finally, everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane.: She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question:" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the pilot.: "What is it:" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down:"

After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix , the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal." *

Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of US Airways."20. Heard on a Southwest Airline flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Canadian News

(I meant to post this earlier, but there was no time to do so)

Yes! The Anti-Terrorism Act has been declared unconstitutional! Most of it, anyway...

(I wanted to link directly to the site of the newspaper where I read it first, but it's subscriber-only)

*In the ruling, Justice Douglas Rutherford of Ontario Superior Court "severed" the clause in the Anti-Terrorism Act dealing with ideological, religious or political motivation for illegal acts and left the rest of the law in place.
"The Superior Court annulled the definition of terrorist activity under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically the provision in the act that requires proof that a person was motivated by ideological, religious or political purpose in the activity for which they've been charged," justice department spokesman Christian Girouard said.
"Essentially, this ruling means there is no definition of terrorism," he said.*

That's one good thing, al-Hamdulillaah. Next, we need to get rid of the security certificate. It's just wrong to hold people for an indefinite period of time without even telling them what they're guilty of, and not showing them the evidence against them.

Also, people are finally realizing that Canada isn't really doing what it's supposed to be doing in Afghanistan. I'd link to the article, but again, it's subscriber-only... but here, I've typed out most of it for you to read.

*Canada is too slow in its rebuilding of Afghanstan; by Susan Riley

International development minister Josee Verner's surprise visit to Afghanistan on the weekend had exactly the opposite effect as was intended. Instead of showcasing the Canadian International Development Agency's reconstruction efforts in the country that is now our major aid recipient, it underscored how uncertain progress has been. Verner was apparently unable to visit any of her department's ongoing projects, due to security concerns and awkward timing. Her trip coincided with 'Eid, a major celebration in the Muslim world, and a holiday even for aid workers. In the end, the minister was confined to heavily guarded premises in Kabul and a staged photo-op with selected girls who were handed new school bags by the minister.

This was meant to symbolize Canada's commitment to the education of girls, but it looked more like bad advance work and tokenism. Nor did it anaswer the question: What is CIDA doing in Afghanistan? We know that close to $1 billion in development assistance has been committed over 10 years (an amount still dwarfed by the military budget).

Senior foreign affairs officials summoned journalists recently for a Power-Point presentation, replete with colourful charts, laying out Canada's development efforts - everything from bridge building to providing microcredit to supporting community governance to polio eradication.

There is no doubt that plans exist on paper, but it is harder to find evidence of concrete results. Khorshied Samad, an American-born journalist married to Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada, insists that CIDA is doing good work in Kabul and elsewhere, and expressed surprise that hte mjinister couldn't get to some of these projects.

She used to work in Kabul as bureau chief for Fox News (that alone should be enough to totally discredit her statements. Just as they declared victory in Iraq, I'll bet they're going to declare victory in Afghanistan) and says 90 percent of the country "is in a peaceful situation, there is progress and people are going about their lives" (I told you they'd be saying something like that...). But the media focuses on the other 10 percent, the war-torn southern region, "so it's making the country sound like it's going to hell in a handbasket" (yeah, I guess suicide bombings where there never used to be suicide bombings, and the pillaging, plundering, and raping done by the militias of warlords who are now members of the Afghan government is nothing much to worry about).

That said, Samada worries that the money CIDA allocates isn't getting to places that need it quickly enough. "That is very frustrating to the Afghan people because their situation is 'I need it yesterday'." She says the West, too, is impatient for results, but the problems are so immense that it will take a generation to repair Afghanistan. As for aid, "a lot of money has gone into the wrong pockets, and that's regrettable," but the majority of Afghans, she says, are honest and desperate for change (oh yes, the Afghans are - the puppet government, like other puppet government, is not).

The Harper government frequently cites women's equality as one rationale for Canada's mission. Samad believes "their hearts are in the right places" (they have hearts?), but notes that CIDA has only earmarked $2 million of its total funding directly for Afghan women.

For MacDonald, the immediate problem is displaced Afghan civilians who are starving in makeshift camps in the south, one of them 15 minutes from the main Canadian base in Kandahar. She doesn't accept that either CIDA nor the military can get food and medical help to these people, who have been displaced by bombing raids, drought, or poverty brought on by the destruction of their poppy farms. "I don't want to hear from the CIDA any more about why they can't (deliver aid). That's what the taxpayers are paying them to do."

Besides responding to humanitarian crisis, emergency aid might win Canadaiends in the area - and greater security for our soldiers, she says. Her organization wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to push our NATO allies to organize emergency food relief, to appoint a special envoy - someone with a forceful personality - to get turf-concious agencies working together. If the military has to deliver food, she says, why not? "We're at a tipping point and there is no way the Canadian government is being upfront with the Canadian people," (ya think?!) says MacDonald, who has been working in Afghanistan since 2005. "(Kandahar) is a complete war zone." And the Taliban is winning militarily and in the battle for hearts and minds. However, the last thing that she wants is a withdrawal of troops: That, she says, would be abandoning the country to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But rebuilding efforts have to be more immediate, more visible, more widespread. That is what Samad wants, too.

It is what everyone says they want, including Verner. It is still not clear that is really happening.*

(I know, not the most brilliant of political commentaries, but whatever)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wow! Can you believe it?! Ramadan and 'Eid have both come and gone!

Insha'Allah everyone had an awesome Ramadan and 'Eid... myself... well, I really shouldn't complain, but I'm in a whiny sort of mood. This Ramadan was, for me, just not very... Ramadan-y. I was stuck in the house most of the time, and even when I went to the Masjid for Taraweeh on the weekends it wasn't that great 'cuz most of the people I don't know, and anyway my friends are in a totally different city, and that just totally sucks.

'Eid, too, was sort of disappointing. When we were still living in my old city, 'Eid day was a big rush. My parents hated it, but I loved the excitement. The night before 'Eid my mum would be frantically cooking up a storm of last minute things, while also answering the phone every 5 minutes to recieve 'Eid greetings from all the people we know, AND running around trying to make sure she hadn't forgotten to pack anything. She'd send my brothers and I off to bed early, but we'd never sleep 'till after midnight, so in the meantime we'd jump on the beds and have a huge pillow fight and sing anasheed on the top of our lungs and then fall back onto the beds wheezing with laughter.

'Eid morning we'd be woken up early. We'd pray Fajr, then run around getting ready, putting on our brand-new 'Eid clothes and trying to get a bite to eat and, in my father's case, wandering around the house going over his 'Eid khutbah and getting in my mother's way, before we were all bundled into the van and zooming off to 'Eid salaah.
Our Islamic centre held 'Eid salaah at whichever hall was available to rent on 'Eid day, since we didn't have a masjid of our own.
Anyhow, when we got there we split up, my mum and I heading over to the women's section while my father and brothers made their way to the men. As soon as we entered the women's section, we were mobbed by all the people we knew, and only just escaped getting hugged and squeezed to death. Eventually we managed to extricate ourselves, relatively unscathed, and found ourselves a spot to sit down... my mum with her best friends, me with mine.
As soon as the Imam uttered the Takbeer to begin salaah, there was a moment of madness when all the people tried to straighten themselves into some semblence of straight rows, and of course the confusion over whose sujaddah was whose. However, things always ended up all right, al-Hamdulillaah.

After salaah my father would give the 'Eid khutbah, and people would sit and listen and nod their heads in agreement, and whenever he cracked a joke half the congregation would bite their tongues trying not to burst into laughter (the converts and youth) and the other half of the congregation would look totally clueless (the first generation immigrants and the Arabs here to study).
And then after the khutbah we'd be in a rush again, my friends and I trying to swap last-minute 'Eid gifts, my mum bidding everyone farewell, and then our family would be running back to the van so that we could go home and load our suitcases into the van and then rush off to catch the ferry to the city where my grandparents live.Once we reached the island we'd go to my granduncle's place (a farm, actually, although currently they have no animals and are instead trying to manage the wilderness that is their backyard), which is where we go every 'Eid 'cuz it's the only place big enough to accomadate all of our family. That's where we'd spend the whole afternoon and evening, eating yummy food and even yummier desserts and just hanging out... usually us kids would get bored after a couple hours, but we'd find something to occupy us.

So yeah, those were our 'old' 'Eids.This 'Eid was totally dull by comparison. No night-before-'Eid madness, no 'Eid-day-craziness... it was... boring, really.

At 'Eid salaah, there were only a fraction of the number of people we used to get at my old city, there was exactly one girl who I could call my friend, and even the other women I know, we just don't share that amazing bond of almost mother-daughter closeness that I have with my mum's friends. I couldn't hear the khutbah because of the children running around screaming. After salaah we went back home, picked everyone else up, then went to my granduncle's place... it was nice, I guess, being with family and all, but it was, I dunno, it felt less special than it usually does. The only thing that sucked was that my mum and I had to stay in hijaab alllll day 'cuz there were non-Mahrams there (family friends), and unfortunately my extended family doesn't really practice segregation of the genders amongst non-Mahrams. I mean, we're all usually in separate rooms, but people will wander in and out...

One of the highlights of the day was our 'Eid loot collection (lol :P). We got money from most people, although I also got 2 lovely blouses and a necklace from my aunt, and my dad's cousin (my second cousin) got me one of those awesome Air Hogs toy planes, which I used to keep myself occupied when I got bored. Let me tell you, it is HARD to run in a skirt and abaayah on bumpy ground. It's even harder wading through grasses and thorns in said abaayah and skirt to rescue the crashed toy plane.
Several members of my extended family were shocked that I actually liked the toy plane, which I think is silly... no, wait, not really. Since we've been living in a different city these last few years, they don't really know me, and that I'm somewhat of a tomboy (or in my grandma's words: bloody tomboy! She means it in the best way possible, though... :P). I always find it funny - upon first meeting me, people think that I'm a quiet sort of girl, the type of girl the older, traditional people are happy with. I look the part, actually, so it's hard to blame them... But then they all get shocked when they discover I'm not like that at all! Their reaction is pretty funny when they find out that I have opinions on political issues (usually differing with their own) and don't like cooking (they look horrified at that - how will I ever find a good South African Indian husband? Little do they know that I have NO intention of marrying one of my cousins or whoever it is they're planning to match me up with).

Anyhow... yeah, that was this year's 'Eid. Quiet, boring... nice, but lacking excitement. Ah, well. Al-Hamdulillaah for what I have, and what I got.

So, what was YOUR 'Eid like?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

'Twas the night before 'Eid, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

'EID MUBARAK, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TaqabAllahu minna wa minkum!

May God accept (good deeds) from us, and from you!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Arab Street

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On Tariq Ramadan, and Integration/Assimilation

I finally took the time to read one of Tariq Ramadan's articles. For those of you who don't know, Tariq Ramadan is the grandson of Sheikh Hasan al-Banna (may Allah have mercy on him), the founder of the Ikhwaan al-Muslimeen. However, that's not what Tariq Ramadan is famous for. He's more well-known for being a controversial 'moderate' Muslim - on one hand, right-wingers in the West (mostly Europe) denounce him as anti-Semitic, a supporter of terrorism, etc. On the other hand, many Muslims view him with suspicion because of his stances on certain topics.

Personally, I don't know much about him. My dad really doesn't like him; calls him one of those 'progressives' (which is one of the latest terms used as an insult between Muslims these days). Anyhow, due to someone's insistence (:smile:) I went and decided to check him out online quickly.
I've read two articles about him - one is actually an interview with him by some people at Prospect magazine (link: and the other is an excerpt from his book "Western Muslims: Isolation or Integration?" (link:

I liked the second one best. In it, he makes a lot of good points, and I agree with pretty much all of it (the first one I found a couple things that I disagreed with, but it'll take too long to write about it). The topic is on isolation and integration in the Muslim community (promoting integration).

Isolation, and clinging to cultural practices, isn't very healthy for the Muslim community. But I also think that the issue of 'integrating' into Western society is a serious one, because it is so easy to lose yourself, your identity as a Muslim, when you try too hard to 'fit in' and 'integrate'.

I think that the issue of isolation and integration mostly affects Muslim families, trying to raise Muslim kids (especially teens) in this Western society.
From what I've seen, there are two scenarios that are most common between the Muslim parents and teens:

(1) parents are determined to keep their kids away from Western influences. They invariably fail. At school, with their friends, they're exposed to it, and it affects them. Forbidding them from going anywhere only fosters feelings of anger, resentment, and rebellion.
(2) The parents are oblivious as to what their kids are being exposed to, are happy that their kids are getting along well at school and making friends and all, and think everything's just hunky-dory until one day their son tells them he's got a girlfriend, and their daughter reveals that she's pregnant (maybe that sounds extreme, but it's happened a lot. I know 'cuz my dad, the director of an Islamic centre, had to deal with the freaked out, shell-shocked parents).

As you can see, the first case was one of isolation; the second of integration gone too far.

What we need is to strike a balance.

The first thing is to have a strong Islamic identity, because before we are anything, we are MUSLIMS, who follow the laws of Islam in our private and public lives. We need to know who we are as Muslims, what our beliefs are, what our goals are. We need to educate ourselves Islamically, so that we are grounded in our religion, so we have that guiding compass that we can always trust to keep us on the straight track.It's especially important for Muslim kids to develop and strengthen their own Islamic identity.
This I know from experience, 'cuz I used to go to public school, and even though I wore hijaab and abaayah I didn't have a strong enough Islamic identity to keep myself straight. Let's just say that I made some mistakes I really wish that I hadn't made, but that al-Hamdulillaah I've learned my lesson.
If you don't have a strong Islamic identity, if you don't have Muslim friends who can help strengthen that identity, if you don't have a support group of Muslims who'll always be there to keep a loving, protective eye on you - it can be really, really hard.

(Keep in mind that in developing and strengthening this Islamic identity, it's very important to go to the Masjid or an Islamic centre regularly, to listen to the lectures and to hang out with fellow Muslims - but not to the extent of isolation, which, again, is unhealthy)

Now, when we go to the 'integration' stage, we've got to be cautious.

Integrating does *not* mean compromising your Islamic values and beliefs in favour of Western ones. It does *not* mean doing everything you can to fit in and be like the non-Muslims. It does *not* mean trying to 'modernize' Islam so that it's appealing to the non-Muslims. Because there will always be something about us, or about Islam, that people will not like, or criticize, and we can't change ourselves just to make them happy.

However, that doesn't mean we can't socialize at all with the non-Muslims. I think that we should, to an extent, and we do, everyday, at school or work or whatever. We can't help it.

Anyway, I think it comes down more to *how* we socialize with them, how we act towards them. As Muslims in a non-Muslim country, everyday when we step out of the house we have remember that we are Da'wah machines. The way we speak, the way we act, the way we conduct ourselves... that's all going to make an impression on the non-Muslims we're interacting with, and we need to remember this and take advantage of it. We have to be on our best behaviour. Think of it this way: We aren't just anyone. We are MUSLIMS. We must act in a way that reflects the teachings of Islam, the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

We've got to be friendly, open, willing to answer any questions that non-Muslims may have for us (they always do...) without getting defensive or aggresive. In this way, insha'Allah, they'll realize that Muslims are not *the Other*, but their neighbours whom they do not have to fear.

Another way to boost our image, and to 'integrate', is by becoming more involved in society, making positive contributions.
For example, volunteering at preschools or daycares, food banks, at old-age homes, at shelters... that sort of thing. People will see you and get to know you and appreciate the effort you're making. That's more Da'wah, right there!

My experience, living in Canada for the last 12 years, has been a good one. My family's raised me to be a strong, practicing Muslimah, and with my father being the director of an Islamic centre I was almost always in a good Islamic environment. When we went 'out' and had to deal with non-Muslims, it was pretty easy... if you're polite and kind and prove yourself to be a nice person, most people won't care that you wear hijaab or don't do certain things (like drink alcohol or have girlfriends/boyfriends or whatever).

So you see, it's really quite simple (although, as with other things, it's easier said than done). Always remember that you're a Muslim, always be proud of it, and present an open, smiling face to the non-Muslims.

Basically, follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

May Allah help us strengthen our Islam and our Iman, and keep us always upon as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem, ameen!

(I have the niggling feeling that I've forgotten to mention some important points, but I can't for the life of me think what they are... so if you can tell what they are, please do point them out... Shukran!)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ramadan Reflections

I've noticed something about myself that I'm pretty dismayed about. Often, I get so caught up thinking about the state of the Muslim Ummah, about the problems of the world, that I spend more time worrying about that than focusing on what I should really be paying attention to - myself.
Sometimes it's harder to focus on yourself and your own faults than those of others. It's easy to criticize others, to point out their problems, and be able to say to yourself smugly, "I know exactly how to solve these problems!"
But it is so much harder to turn that criticism to yourself and admit that you aren't doing as much as you should be, that you aren't practicing Islam to your utmost best.

So, I decided to do a little self-evaluating. How good of a Muslimah am I? Am I really trying to implement what I know of Islam? What are things that I should work on?

The results made me cringe and want to hide under my bead in shame. As a general rule, I think I do okay. But further scrutinity reveals that there is a lot I need to work on.

First and foremost, salaah (prayer): It is the one thing that I have the most difficult time with.

Which is pretty embarassing. After all, salaah is the second pillar of Islam, one of the most important parts of Islam.
However, my problem is not so much performing the prayer physically, as spiritually. It's so easy stand, bow, and prostrate, to rattle off the Qur'anic ayaat and the various supplications of Salaah. It is much more difficult to really focus on what you're saying, understanding what you're saying, and actually feeling it.
When I'm tired, or grumpy, or even just eager to go do something else, it's so easy to rush through the salaah, performing the actions and letting my tongue utter the words while I'm really thinking about something else and just trying to get it over with so that I can go do whatever it is I want to do.

There are times when I do feel the salaah, when I do try to perform it correctly - spiritually as well as physically - but the times that I rush through it are far more than the occasions when I feel that I've really done it.

Sometimes, in mid-rush, I realize that what I'm doing is wrong, and I'll slow down and try to concentrate, but in my head I'll still be wanting to just get it over with... and then I feel guilty, 'cuz does that mean I'm not a really good Muslim? I do try, but what do other actions count when you aren't really fulfilling the spiritual goal of salaah?

Even in Ramadan, when you know it's the month of mercy and blessings, when every salaah counts more at this time than it does during the rest of the year... it's still hard for me. I'm too impatient, that's the problem!

Man, being a teenage Muslimah can be really tough... 'cuz on one hand I know a lot of stuff, I know what I should be doing to become a better Muslimah and all, but on the other hand, sometimes I just don't feel like doing it, and there's that nasty little voice saying, "Just pray your fardh and you've done what you have to! Now let's go do something fun!"

Does anyone else have this problem? Pleeeeeeeaaaaaaase tell me that I'm not alone in this... otherwise I will die of shame.

Impatience is what seems to be the root of the problem. Maybe I can attribute it to my youthfulness, maybe I can't... but I like to be on the go, always doing something to keep my hands, and at the very least my mind, occupied. It's hard for me to focus on my 'inner self' and reflect on myself internally and all that stuff. I find spirituality to be difficult. It's hard to sit down, close my eyes, and just... think or feel. The few times I've tried doing that, I either get bored and wander off to do something else, or I start getting sleepy and yawning.

So what do you think? Do you think is just a phase that all teenagers go through, or do I need to do some major self-disciplining and spirital exercising?

Hurry up and tell me, because I'm in agony over it!!!

Your agitated little sister in Islam,

Friday, October 06, 2006

Today I learned a lesson.
Humility, and to not talk without proper knowledge.

Sometimes it's hard to realize that you're doing something that you know is wrong. Like talking without proper knowledge - I know, and I should know better, that in Islam, it's wrong to talk about something when you don't know all the details about it. Yet I made that error. Al-Hamdulillaah, though, it was quickly pointed out...

The thing about such lessons is that they're hard to swallow. My first reaction was wounded pride. Anger. Annoyance.

But... I deserved it. Let's just hope I can remember it.

I want to weep. I want to scream. I want to run into the streets and let the world know my anguish.

I see the state of the Muslim Ummah, and my heart is broken. Here in the West, in the Arab world, in other so-called 'Muslim' countries... we are divided, we are ignorant, Twe are obsessed with the trivial even as our brothers and sisters in Islam are being slaughtered every day, even as oppression, injustice, and wrong-doing is commited in the name of our beautiful Islam, and we remain silent, scared of what some people might do to us. We forget that Allah is the Guardian and Protector of the Believers; that there is nothing one man or a thousand men can do to us if Allah does not determine that it should happen; and even if something does happen to us - it is a test from Allah, and something that we will be rewarded for. Nothing happens to a Muslim except that there is good in it, even if we can't see what it is right now.

"If Allah helps you none can overcome you, and if He forsakes you, who is there, after Him, that can help you. And in Allah (alone) let believers put their trust." (Qur'an, 3:160)

"And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him. He will make a way for him to get out (from) every (difficulty), and He will provide him from (sources) he could never imagine." (Qur'an, 65:2-3)

[Put your trust in Allah, and Allah is All-sufficient (as a Disposer of affairs.)"] (Al-Ahzab 33:3)

It is reported that the Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) said: "Never is a believer stricken with discomfort, hardship, illness, grief or even with mental worry except that his/her sins are expiated thereby." Sahih Muslim, Book 032, Number 6242

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Abbas: One day I was behind the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he said to me: “Young man, I shall teach you some words of Advise. Be mindful of Allah (God), and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah. If you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it will benefit you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. And that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens had been lifted and the pages have dried.”

Why are we scared of the people, but not of God? Why do we seek to please the people, but not God? He, who is most deserving of both our fear and our love!

What makes me angry is when a bunch of people start arguing and fighting because of a difference of opinion. Often it isn't even over a huge issue, but they *make* it a big deal. The fighting gets bitter, to the point that the people involved will start telling other people to stay away from 'them' - 'them' being the people they're arguing with. They call them deviants, they call them hypocrites, they call them all sorts of things. All over something pretty minor.
They refuse to compromise, or to agree to disagree. It's their way or the highway, in their opinion. It makes me furious. This sort of attitude is what only further weakens the Ummah. Instead of screaming at each other, instead of denouncing each other as 'hypocrites' or 'extremists', why can't we try to work out these differences? The Sahaabah used to have differences in opinion, yet they ALWAYS stuck up and stood up for each other. Their views may have been drastically different, but they still loved each other dearly. They didn't let differences get in the way of Islamic brotherhood.

Why can't we realize that? Why can't we see that by having this ridiculously stubborn, pig-headed attitudes, we're doing ourselves more harm than good?

The division in the Muslim Ummah is terrible. So many people going to extremes - the 'progressive Muslims' who want to make everything and everything halaal, who say that Islam needs to be reformed (it doesn't; it is the MUSLIMS who need to be reformed), who throw away centuries of Islamic knowledge in favour of their own 'liberal' interpretations of the Qur'an and Sunnah. And then those who would call everyone who doesn't agree with them kuffaar.
Those who proudly label themselves 'modern Muslims', and those who are happy to be called 'Salafi', 'Wahhabi', 'Jihadi', etc.

Whatever happened to the middle path that the Prophet (SAW) advised us to stick to?Whatever happened to being a part of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah?

There are those who have little real knowledge about Islam, yet who somehow feel qualified to give their own fataawah or tafseer. They reject aspects of Shari'ah that they feel are 'too harsh' or 'out of date'. They wish to make lawful that which Allah has made unlawful (adultery, for example), and wish to make unlawful what Allah has made lawful (why do they think that adultery should be okay but that polygamy should be illegal?!). They try to explain away verses from the Qur'an, or aHadith that they disagree with.

Yaa Allah, save us from ourselves!

There are those pockets of reasonable, level-headed Muslims who try to stick to the Qur'an and Sunnah and are content with being a part of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah, who respect the scholars yet do not blindly follow any one madhhab.But I am finding them all too rare... and another thing is that, unlike the 'modernists' and the 'Jihadists', they don't seek the spotlight, and therefore nobody pays much attention to them and what they have to say. Which I think is a pity, because they are the ones we should be listening to.

I think that we really, really, really need to get rid of the "My opinion is correct, and if you don't think so you're a hypocrite/deviant/kaafir!" attitude and replace it with another attitude - that of actually listening to each other, to what the other people have to say.
We have to remain calm and courteous at all times. When discussing something, and if you're disagreeing, what you do is you present your proofs, explain *why* you believe it, and then listen to the other people and their rationale. In the end, you can either agree with each other (yay!) and everything will be peachy, OR, you can agree to disagree (not as good as option 1, but it's better than screaming at each other and calling each other munaafiqs and kuffaar and whatnot).
The main thing is, RESPECT each other. Be RESPECTUL. Calm, courteous, and respectful; that was the attitude of the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he dealt with even the most vile people of Quraish, and that should be our attitude, too.

As people from the Angry Arab blog can attest, that's how I try to act, and al-Hamdulillaah, I think it's done a lot of good. Those who swear at others are always polite to me - even the most hardened Islamophobic, Zionist, racist, etc. I find that pretty cool. Don't you?

As individuals and as an Ummah, we need to change our attitudes, in how we deal with each other, and with non-Muslims. If we all changed our attitudes to be like that of the Prophet's, that would be a wonderful first step towards changing the situation of the Muslim Ummah - for the better, insha'Allah.

So in summary:
The sad state of the Muslim Ummah sucks. Division in the Muslim Ummah sucks. Going to extremes sucks. Can't we all just stop arguing and get along?

The most beloved to me and the closest to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those of you who have the best attitudes. And the most hateful to me and the furthest from me on the Day of Resurrection will be the prattlers and boasters and al-mutafayhiqun.” The Sahabah said, “O Messenger of Allah(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we understand who the prattlers and boasters are, but who are al-mutafayhiqun?” He(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The proud and arrogant.
Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/249, in Abwab al-birr, 70, classified as hasan.