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