Archive Page 2

21
Jun
13

No Longer in Juvenile Court

One of the things I have been intrigued with is the differences between the perceptions of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in Islamic or traditional societies versus American or modern societies.

——-

Muslims believe that God will put them on trail “as adults,” meaning hold them accountable for their actions, when they hit puberty.

When a kid hits puberty, their whole world view is turned upside down and he or she is bombarded with more temptations than he or she has ever experienced before.

In our society, we propagate the idea that a kid at that stage of life is completely irrational, out of control and slave to his or her hormones. However, for Muslims, God is telling you otherwise. God is telling you, you are now being held responsible for all of your actions and He is demanding for you to act with a restraint and control that will match your new desires.

God isn’t letting you punk out.

-paraphrased from Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan’s “Shame” series (episode 4), available on Bayyinah TV; discussion of [3:14]

——–

I wish I had heard this 10 years ago.

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14
Nov
12

Is #IrvineDivest Redemption for #Irvine11?

On the evening of November 13th, the University of California, Irvine made history by being the first UC to pass, unanimously!, the boycott, divestment, sanctions legislation against the apartheid state of Israel.

Given the history that UCI has in terms of Israel and Palestine, this thought crossed my mind, as I am sure it did for many others.

As Zahra Billoo, activist, attorney and head of CAIR’s Northern California chapter, so eloquently tweeted it

So, let’s ask ourselves this question. Is UCI’s divestment from Israel (BDS) redemption for the reactions to the Irvine 11 protest which happened 3 years earlier?

As a current UCI student, Muslim Student Union member, Irvine 11 campaign worker, and representative voice to the Academic Senate–I say:  NO.

And here’s why.

The Student Body; The Administration

Firstly, ASUCI and Administration are not one in the same entity.  The BDS passing was done by the student government of UCI, Associated Students of UCI (ASUCI), and not the university’s administration.  The Administration officially divesting from Israel on their own accord is so ridiculous, it’s laughable.  Likewise, it was Administration and the UCI PD who arrested the protesting students at the protest which occurred in February of 2010, not ASUCI.

As this momentous event shows us, the rift between the perspective of the student body and the perspective of the Administration is growing regarding activism and Israel/Palestine politics on campus.  Administration’s wishy-washy approach to the Israel-Palestine debate on campus will not suffice the views and the voice of the student body.

The sin committed by Administration cannot be atoned for by ASUCI.  They themselves are responsible for their actions and are the only ones who could ever redeem themselves, which is now too late.

The Implications of the Irvine 11 Protest on Campus and in Orange County

It is impossible to say that the student protest at the Ambassador Michael Oren event was contained to Pacific Ballroom on the UCI campus.  The reactions that the Administration had against the students themselves and the Muslim Student Union as well as its inaction in the face of the District Attorney’s criminal prosecution of these students are all too blaring to ignore and too late to be repaired.

On the individual level for the students who participated in the protest, Administration met them with university disciplinary actions, which are pretty much only known to the staff and students involved.  Punishments and measures taken ranged in severity between the individuals, some who were seen as having a bigger hand in the protest than others.

All of these students were Muslim, and most of these individuals were associated with the Muslim Student Union at UCI.  So here came the hammer on the organization.  Although it denied a role in the protest and distinguished between a group of members acting on their own accord and the organization as a whole, the MSU was penalized.  At first sentenced with a year-long suspension, MSU’s punishment was later reduced to a quarter-long suspension followed by a subsequent 2 year probation.  Just to put it in perspective, MSU at UCI has somewhere between 100-150 active members and offers many services to its members from academic to spiritual, let alone a place of belonging on campus.  All current and future members of UCI who did not have an actual role in the protest underwent sanctions from the university.

To add fuel to the fire, the attitude that Administration had to the protest was highly publicized, creating a campus-wide stigma against anyone who identified with the protest, MSU (and more largely Muslim), or Palestine.   Chancellor Michael Drake sent out emails to the whole campus about what had happened.  In the email he sent the very next day February 8th, Chancellor Drake put the spotlight on the protesters, calling for a campus-wide condemnation of the protest and the 11 individuals.  In an email sent out less than 2 weeks later on February 17, subject title “Values and Civility,” he denounced “the behavior of so many others” as “sinking backward” and called for participation in discussions hosted by those who agreed with the Administration’s official views.   Then, on February 26th, he sent out another email, a “Statement on Recent Events,” equating the racist noose found in Geisel Library at sister-school UCSD to the Ambassador Oren protest.  Chancellor Drake painted both as acts of bigotry and hatred, evoking the UCI “family” by stating, “we are all particularly offended (and astonished) when campus groups behave in ways that are harmful to other members of our community. On our own campus, we have unfortunately seen an increase in inflammatory rhetoric and actions, rather than an increase in problem solving efforts.”  That is a total of 3 emails sent out to the whole campus demonizing the protest and the protesters—but it didn’t stop there.

Administration’s agenda wasn’t only restricted to discrete jabs at the MSU—they came out very vocally against the organization.  As we saw in the Student Affair’s welcoming message sent out the next school year on September 3rd, 2010, it announced the suspension and probation of MSU for all to hear loud and clear.  The damage that this email must have caused on the incoming class particularly is immeasurable.  I can only imagine what it must have meant as incoming freshmen and transfers checked their emails and found this message waiting in their inboxes, separate implications for Muslim and non-Muslim students.  In this email, the Administration makes a point to quell the fears of the UCI campus by ensuring us that the suspension/probation is in addition to the disciplinary action taken against the protesting students. “The sanctions described herein apply to the organization as a whole, and do not address disciplinary processes for individuals in this incident.” As stated, it became clear that MSU had its trip to the guillotine in order to serve as a symbolic example, to “[demonstrate] the University of California Irvine’s commitment to values, principles and tolerance.”  How ironic.

Now moving into the larger Orange County scene, Administration’s attitude was even more publically put on display by Administration’s complete lack of action in the face of the District Attorney’s criminal prosecution against the student protesters.  Administration had already punished these students individually and MSU as a whole at the campus level.  Many, even those who disagreed with the students who protested and supported the Administration’s university discipline, saw this prosecution as thoroughly draconian and unnecessary.  The Administration had the power to shut this case down, but its new found wordlessness left a resounding silence that the District Attorney took as silent approval.  Not only did the prosecution carry on, but the final verdict was that the students were found guilty.  This UCI protest was now displaced off-campus and shoved into the Orange County court room.

The Real Issue

In all of the hoopla that surrounded the Irvine 11, we lost sight of the real issue.  It wasn’t about free speech. the 1st Amendment, and constitutional rights—but that was all we heard about.  The conversation cleverly side-stepped the real issue:  Israel’s systematic oppression of the Palestinian people and our responsibility as students regarding the issue.

So what does this mean for UCI, a hot bed of debate over Israel and Palestine?  Let’s be clear:  the Irvine Divestment is not redemption for the Irvine 11, to each is the accountability for his own action.  It means the students have taken a momentous step forward and the Administration better keep up.  Administration, as a bastion against student activism and pro-Palestinian sentiments, this message is to you from the students.

With BDS and the Irvine Divestment, it’s hard to avoid the topic of Israel/Palestine this time around.  Yes, this is the chance to celebrate student activism and achievement in a period of unforeseen tuition hikes and university cut backs, but it’s much more than that.  Let’s stay focused on the apartheid state of Israel and the suffering Palestinian people, and let us continue to work to bring justice and speak truth to power together as students.

May all of our activism always stay sincere and be accepted.  I pray that UCI has opened the door for many other schools to pass BDS at their own campuses.

17
Oct
12

Make Hajj&Umrah Without Going to Hajj….What?

Assalamualaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu!!

What would you say if I told you that you can make Hajj & Umrah ANY DAY of the year??!!  Now what would you say if the Prophet SAWS told us so? 🙂

From Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘Whoever prays the morning prayer in congregation then sits remembering Allah until the sun rises, then prays two units of prayer has the reward like that of Hajj and `Umrah.’” He said, “Allah’s Messenger, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘Complete, complete, complete (i.e. reward)’” (narrated by Tirmidhi).

For WOMEN, this getting the reward for Hajj & Umrah is WAY EASIER. Why? Because women do not have to pray in congregation at the masjid and they can pray from their own homes

So sisters–wake up and set your OWN Fajr salah time (an hour before fajr ends, 30 minutes before, 15 minutes before, however long or short you please) and sit there in a warm blankey and make dua, read Qur’an, or make dhikr until sunrise/shurook time. Wait at least 10 minutes for the sun to rise completely (you can not make salah while the sun is rising or setting) and pray 2 rakah–AND YOU’RE DONE!! iA you will see the rewards for all of your Hajj’s & Umrah’s on the Day of Judgement.  This advice is straight out of Shaykh Yaser Brijas’ mouth from when I took Fiqh of Salah with him, so I am just passing along the message.

Don’t be sad that you’re not at Hajj this year 😦 Be glad that Allah gave you the opportunity to make Hajj and Umrah from the comfort of your local masjid or even your own home and any day of the year that you please, but ESPECIALLY in these first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah!!

Take advantage of the BEST 10 DAYS OF THE YEAR and JOIN THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AT HAJJ THIS YEAR by making Hajj & Umrah yourself!! 🙂 Don’t miss out!!

 
So let’s pleaaaaaaaaaaase take advantage of this opportunity 🙂
Reminder to myself first and foremost!
23
Aug
12

Visual-Spacial Imagination, Memory, & the Qur’an

Assalamualaykum!

A belated Eid mubarak to all!  It seems like it’s been a while, alhamdulillah.  I’ve been trying to get back in the groove of things back home, and as we all know Ramadan is an experience in and of itself.  It’s been almost 2 full months since the Dream 2012 batch graduated. It still hasn’t sunk in that I won’t be going back to Dream in a few weeks.  Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of something from Dream, whether something in class that Ustadh said or some aspect of living in Texas or a person or a joke, anything.  Even this cliched term, “not a day goes by…” is not exaggerated enough to capture how many things remind me of Dream on a daily basis, I would say it happens at least every few hours.

And there it is again–memory–something that I’ve been mulling over for a while.  There are some trains of internal thought-conversations that we have in our minds that insist on tempting us and any and every thing we see around us can make us think of them.  A subject I am currently brooding over is the idea of memory.

Why, you ask?

Coming back from Dream, one of my main goals is to kick up my Qur’an memorizing.  I would say that memorizing has been the creature lurking in the shadows this whole time for the past 3-4 years of my life and I am just starting to notice it.  First, it was stumbling into tajweed classes and working on tajweed and reading for a while.  Then, it was going to Dream, where I became adequately adept at being able to understand the language I would need to be memorizing in.  And my most recent experience, memorizing in Ramadan in which I somehow was able to memorize an unimaginable half a juz in 3-4 weeks with the blessings and favor of Allah.

It was at Dream that I started experimenting with my ability to memorize and what it means to sit down and practice memorizing and to become good at it.  During Dream, Ustadh Nouman would make us memorize so many random, bakwas things and it was really frustrating at times.  One of our first memorizing assignments was to give a 2-3 minute introduction speech from memory, (posted here). Regularly throughout the year, we would have to memorize the conversations and short reading passages from our Cambridge and Bayna Yadayk 2 textbooks.  Especially with Bayna Yadayk 2, Ustadh Nouman would walk around among the study groups and tell us that he’s coming back in 10 minutes to test us on a page-long conversation.  Cue insane cramming!  But somehow, we managed to pretty much stumble through them even if it was just 10 minutes later and it becoming normal to me is something that amazed me, and still amazes me.

So this morning as I was trying to warm up my brain for (guess what?) attempting to memorize my half page for today, I happened to come across this TED talk by Joshua Foer called “Feats of Memory Anyone Can Do” and got horribly, but oh so productively, distracted.  (The distraction continues now as I blog about it, which is an added distraction).

In this talk, he speaks about his experiences as a journalist covering the national memory competition and his subsequent interaction with the idea of memory and memorizing and why it’s so important in our lives.  He does an exercise at the beginning of his talk to demonstrate the memorizing theory of “memory palace,” the theory he later explains in his talk and elucidates his opening demo.  *warning, there is a picture with some nudity that he shows, so when you see a picture of a front door, look away before it’s too late!!

One of the main concepts he speaks about, which is also at the crux of the memory palace method, is what he talks about in a study that shows that when people/memory experts are actively engaging their memories, the part of their brain that lit up vs. the control group was the visual-spacial portion.  The whole idea is to find a way to imagine what you’re memorizing so it will be easier to recall.

This Ramadan, I actually tried imaging the Qur’an in a visual-spacial sort of way, like a movie, but not so much for memorizing.  I did that during tarawih to help keep my khushoo/concentration and also to simply enrich my experience of the Qur’an in hopes of being able to taste it.  It’s really easy to do and a fun exercise, and it’s quite built into the language! When Shaykh Yasir Birjas visited the campus, he said that Arabic words are like a picture in your head, and he encouraged us to always find the picture of the word while we were studying.  Ustadh Nouman is actually a huge proponent of this idea–that the Qur’an is like a movie, especially in some parts over the other.  It’s something he also spoke about in his Sunday Qur’an lectures (which can be found on Bayyinah.tv, subscribe today!! Shameless plug 😀 ) in Surat an Nahl, when the people who have taqwa of Allah are asked what Allah revealed to them they respond by saying خيراً, which Ustadh translated as man, it was so good!; whereas on the previous page, the people who are arrogant and disbelieve are asked the same question to which they responded أساطيرُ الأوّلين, legends of old/tales of the ancients.

وَقِيلَ لِلَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا مَاذَا أَنزَلَ رَبُّكُمْ ۚ قَالُوا خَيْرًا ۗ لِّلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُوا فِي هَٰذِهِ الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ ۚ وَلَدَارُ الْآخِرَةِ خَيْرٌ ۚ وَلَنِعْمَ دَارُ الْمُتَّقِينَ

And it will be said to those who feared Allah , “What did your Lord send down?” They will say, “[That which is] good.” For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous – [16:30]

This ayah is actually really interesting.  It is grammatically weird for the people to respond خيراً (in the nasb state) rather than خيرٌ (in the rafa state.)  Not only is this the default for any sentence and in Arabic in general, ayah 24 of the same surah gives a template for the response, by the arrogant saying إساطيرُ الإوّلين instead of أساطيرَ الأوّلين (this time it is in rafa like it normally would be).  Even if you have no idea what a nasb or a rafa status is (or mansoob or marfoo’), any person who reads Arabic can tell that there is a difference in tashkeel–a fathah versus a damma.

So, why is “khayr” written with a fathah/in nasb state?  It’s as if the people have experienced and tasted the Qur’an, that’s why they’re saying, man, it was so good! They weren’t just saying (cue pompous religious accent) “Allah revealed good–He revealed something good to us”.  They are saying, “What did Allah reveal?!  It’s amazing, haven’t you tasted it?!  Dude, you’ve got to check it out! Seriously!!

From this ayah, I guess we can say that even Allah speaks about people experiencing the Qur’an–not only confined to their visual-spacial imaginations, but also in their lives, by living the Qur’an.

And what does it mean to live the Qur’an?  And why is this so important for me, or anyone else, who is even just thinking about wanting to memorize the whole Qur’an?

One of my goals coming back was to memorize, and this got me grappling with the important question, is it even possible for me to physically memorize?  I think I proved to myself that it is this past year at Dream and also during this Ramadan, but memorizing the Qur’an isn’t like memorizing a list of names in a phone book or the order of a stack of cards, it’s memorizing the words of Allah and memorizing them FOR LIFE.  Even the term “hafidth” / حافظ doesn’t translate as “memorizer,” it translates as a guarder or protector. This means that anyone who has memorized the whole Qur’an is given the title of someone who protects the Qur’an–what an honorable title to hold!  So what does it mean for someone who wants that title?

Memorizing the Qur’an is not only being physically capable to handle it, but also spiritually ready.  The term “memorize by heart” is truly appropriate here.  (It also reminds me of the amazing documentary “Koran By Heart” which is something you should watch if you haven’t yet. You can probably YouTube it.)  Someone whose heart is not ready to hold the weight of the Qur’an will not be ready to memorize it.  We know that it took some of the sahabi years to memorize the Qur’an because they were waiting to let it sink into their hearts and apply it in their lives before moving on to the next verse.  Sins, internal darknesses, matters of character, rectifying our behavior–these are all essential aspects of memorizing the Qur’an which perhaps are things that we overlook.

As much as Dream was the means of me being able to understand Arabic (which has made it way easier for me to memorize long term) and also good memorizing practice since memorizing random things was regularly expected of us, it also stands as the experience which has pushed me spiritually and in terms of my character/adab/akhlaq more than anything I have ever done before.  Maybe Dream turned out to be the thing that would not only get me physically and intellectually ready to memorize, but also spiritually ready.

May Allah prepare our minds and our hearts to hold the Qur’an.

I also pray that there is a TED talk about memorizing the Qur’an soon!!!!

Please keep me in your prayers as I continue to think about starting a serious memorizing regiment.  This is a reminder to myself first and foremost.

Sunrise or a sunset? A time-old question in my life.
Sunrise in Fullerton, CA.

14
Aug
12

Better Company

*cross-post from Muslim Matters

I recently listened to a spoken word poem that I’d like to share with all of you, along with my reflection on it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1xP1akEoO

I woke up in a sweat, slightly dizzy, short of breathe,
all the while trying to figure whether I was close to death,
heart was beatin’ hard, saw it poundin’ through my chest,
& still I couldn’t move, as though my body was possessed,

naturally… I panicked, so would anyone of you,
& tried to calm myself until a shadow comes to view,
I convinced myself my family bought a dog while i was sleeping,
despite that fact it went against everything that they believed in,

then a human outline’s made out only adding to the tension,
as circumstances of our meeting, makes you question ones intentions,
settling right before me at my feet as I lay frozen,
then motions for my covers, slips them off, his silence broken,

“sit up my dear friend, it is I who’s never left you,
who’s worked hard towards your pleasure & never once tried to correct you,
I’ve been with you since birth, & have received you at your worst,
this little gap between your lord & you? a highlight of my work

“what’s wrong dear friend?” he asks me as he sees my face turn cold,
at realizin’ all I’ve done was me doin’ as told,
“actually that’s not true,” he interrupts me in my thoughts,
“see I threw mere suggestions, while you played all your own parts”

this stranger’s words disturb me almost though he knew me thoroughly,
trying to figure out just what he was all signs point other worldly,
his words held hints of truth mixed with lies I couldn’t see through,
then whispers in my ear, “understand me I comPLETE you”

when all those that you love would see you SLAVE to learn this deen,
just so they can show you off in hopes to raise their self-esteem,
see they care about themselves, I say its time you followed suit,
cause in the end all you’ll have added to your name is hollow truth,

now DON’T give me that look, we both in this together,
& DON’T think of that book, the one that’s said to make men better,
cause no verse in all its pages can turn sinners into sages,
overnight at least, besides if anything we’ll BOTH see cages,

oh you seem confused, did you think that you’d be spared?,
when your hands are just as dirty? did you think that would be fair?
“boy listen,” he continued lookin’ calm & cold as ever,
“the ties from slaves to their lord were neVER to be severed,

but some would choose to squander all the mercy they received,
& find themselves no better than the ones who disbelieved,
so stop acting remorseful, you don’t wanna be forgiven,
you don’t want that straight & narrow path, you LOVE this crooked livin”

as his points went unanswered it would seem I’d found assistance,
when his assault was cut short by the adhaan, sounding in the distance,
his face turned pale in panic as his body shook with fear,
while I looked to the horizon & saw horsemen drawing near,

“that dreaded month’s returned,” he whispered as sweat dripped from his face,
& you’ll forget all that you’ve learned, as I am chained up to THAT place,
but before I’m forced to run I beg you one thing to consider,
that this so called month of mercy’s more a bear trap for a sinner,

& if by its end I return to find you not “astray”,
I promise I won’t rest until I have you back my way”,
I look back towards the horsemen who’ve come so near i see their banner,
raised high above them, reading “Allāh the best of planners”,

the strangers long since vanished leaving his frightful words behind,
that have resonated with me & echo all throughout my mind,
can I REALLY be forgiven? is repentance still an option?
my hopes of such been crushed before & shot down more than often,

& just when my faith in myself had seemed so quick to fade,
a loud & firm voice calls to me seconds from being too late
the riders eased their paces as they now trot slowly towards me,
when their leader dismounts from his stead & smiles at me, cordially,

his face shines like the moon, with his clothes that’re just as bright,
his eyes are deep & piercing & his hair as dark as night,
the beard down to his chest, was like his Superman “S”,
they must work for someone big was all this foolish man guessed,

the lead rider extended out to me his massive hand,
then pulled me to my feet, i found relief that i could stand
after everything I’ve been through, best beLIEVE I ain’t trust strangers,
but as his hand rest on my shoulder I could sense no risk of danger,

these were men of deen & virtues I could only dream to know,
who reply to their lords call in haste where I would seem too slow,
weak, shaken, scared, I ask the rider “what becomes of me?”,
he answered, “By HIS grace you’ll find yourself in better company”.

My reflection :

When Ramaḍān rolls in, I like to imagine that this translucent safety bubble engulfs the universe and that the whole universe experiences a shift or a little shock wave. (Slightly reminiscent of Harry Potter 7 when they put up the defense shield around Hogwarts during the battle.)  And similarly, when Ramaḍān ends, the same shock wave ripples through the universe as the bubble pops and implodes upon itself, letting the shayāṭīn out once again.  This visual really helps me as I try to grasp the significance of the presence, or lack thereof, of the shayāṭīn in this month and outside of it.

A common question that is always asked about Ramaḍān is, “if the shayāṭīn are locked up during Ramaḍān, why do bad things continue to happen?”  The answer that I’ve heard given to this question is that it is the evil that has been instilled in us which takes over. After the shayāṭīn are locked up, it’s like we’re on autopilot.

This, of course, is a scary thought.  We always make excuses about the sins we make and the bad that we do, “oh, it was just the Shayṭān! It really wasn’t me, I gave into his whispers!  But Ramaḍān is the one time of the year when we can really determine what is from our own selves and what is from the Shayṭān and how far we have given into corruption.  It’s a time of the year I dread in some way, because it’s a time when the darknesses of my own soul are most apparent to me.  However, this is something that we must experience in order for us to purify ourselves and it’s merely a part of the process.  Ramaḍān is a blessing not only because the shayāṭīn can’t influence us, but also because we get to know the truth that lies deep within our own selves.  It reminds me of this one quote that I love, “Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”

That “little gap” that is between us and Allāh, we get to work on that without Shayṭān being in the way.  We put in 30 days of hard work to improve our conditions and alḥamdulillāh, there’s always progress to be seen by the end of the month.  We know that the shayāṭīn like to go for the hard catches, the ones that prove to be a challenge.  So when the month ends and they “find [us] not astray,” or less than we were before, we know for a fact that they “will not rest” to turn us back from all the progress we’ve made until they have us “back [their] way,” if not in the same problems, with a development of new ones.

In Ramaḍān Prep this year, something that Ustadh Hassan Elwan said, and has said in the past before, is that Shayṭān is enraged by the time Ramaḍān is over.  He’s ready to get back to business and is even more excited to bring down the believers.  It’s important for us to not exhaust ourselves in the last 10 nights of Ramaḍān to the point that we are too tired to keep our guard up on ‘Īd and the days soon afterward.  These are the days we’re the most vulnerable in and need to keep most vigilant.

I pray that Allāh will allow this month to show us who we really are so that we can purify and improve ourselves.  I ask Him that He helps us to keep up our progress after the month is over and that when Shayṭān comes back we are stronger than ever and we prove ourselves to be impenetrable to his attack.

Ameen

21
Jul
12

It Was Just One “Like”

Assalamualaykum!

Alhamdulillah, I’m back in SoCal after having graduated from Dream.  It’s been almost 3 weeks being back!  I plan on writing something about that soon iA, but right now, it’s all about Ramadan!

I have a short story to share with you which contains some naseeha for all of us this blessed Ramadan 🙂

It Was Just One “Like”

She started out Ramadan with high hopes, for a new beginning, more enthusiasm, greater spirituality.  Every Ramadan for the past few years she had been really trying to take advantage of the holy month and to come closer to God and to grow as a person.

She logged onto Facebook right before heading out to the Youth Qiyam at the masjid.  In her News Feed, she saw all of her friends who were going…and noticed that he was going as well.  He being one of the brothers in the youth group, someone who she had noticed becoming more serious about Islam recently as well.  He being the one who would creep up into her thoughts sometimes.

And now he was creeping up on her Facebook News Feed as well.

So, she “liked” his status.  She thought, come on, it’s just one “like!” 

She woke up the next morning and noticed all of her friends posting about the Qiyam last night.  She was wondering whether he had posted anything, and started to scroll down the page looking for something.  He had posted as well.  It was a quote from one of the lectures.

That quote also resonated with her.  So, she “liked” it.  She thought, come on, it’s a great reminder!  Maybe I’ll share his status on my Wall as well, help spread the khayr!

She had posted a quote from the Qiyam as well.  And guess who “liked” it…? And commented…?

He did.

A crazy rush of excitement shot through her.

The next day, her phone beeped, someone had tagged her in a tweet.  She went on to Twitter, and she noticed a recent tweet of his.  Turns out he was going to the masjid in the neighboring town tonight for tarawih.

I’ve been wanting to check out that masjid, I’ve heard the reciter is amazing!…maybe I can convince the family to go there tonight.

Ends up they didn’t make it to that masjid that night.  It made her a little sad.  So she logged into her Facebook.  She was hoping he had posted something new.  She logged into her Twitter.  She was hoping he had posted something new.  She was in luck!  He posted a picture at the masjid.

So, she “liked” it.

He had posted an ayah that was read in tarawih that night as well.  She read the comments below, and saw some interesting things that people had posted.  And she wanted to respond and share her insights, too.  It reminded her of another ayah she had read the other day.

So, she commented and posted that ayah.

He commented back a few hours later.

So, she “liked” his comment.

It kept going and going like this every day.  She logged into her Facebook and Twitter hoping one of his posts would pop up in her News Feed.  She didn’t feel like she was doing anything wrong.  There wasn’t much interaction, they weren’t even really talking, she made the excuse.  And it was just posts about Islam and Ramadan!  She was actually finding benefit in some of his posts.  They made her think and she was learning from them.

She had developed a tick–she started logging onto her Facebook more and more everyday, constantly on the hunt for a post of his.  He kept popping up in her mind more and more as their interaction via social media had increased.  She just had to go back onto Facebook multiple times  a day.  It seemed like an addiction had developed in her halfway through the month.  She would go and check his profile daily.

Her mom started noticing she was online so much these days, and she was getting angry with her.  So she was forced to cut down on her time online.  It was really annoying her.  She would sneak away from her mom and go on Facebook when she got the chance.

It was getting out of control.  She had never cared this much about Facebook or Twitter before he had started posting so much.

After Ramadan ended, a lot of the progress she had made seemed to have faded, but her interactions with him still continued.  However, she had started to notice things about him that were bothering her.  He was posting about stupid things these days after Ramadan had finished.  She didn’t care to know all of these little, useless things about him.  And why were there so many girls “liking” his posts and commenting?  It was really peeving her.  Before, nothing would make her happier than his posts showing up in her News Feed.  Now, nothing would put her in more of a sour mood.

It came to the point where she was over him.  He wasn’t worth her time anymore.  When she was reflecting back on the month of Ramadan, she realized that she had allowed him to steal the barakah from her month.  It made her disappointed in herself, she had wasted the best time of the year.

And it had all started with just one little “like.”

She realized what a distraction he had been for her during Ramadan, and even afterwards.  She deleted him as a friend.  She unfollowed him.  She didn’t want to deal with it anymore.

She got a friend request from one of the brothers at the MSA.  She didn’t accept it.  She kept weeding out all the guys she was friends with. She realized what a distraction social media in general could be, but especially what a fitnah and test the guys could pose.

She realized how easy it is to slip online in terms of gender interaction.  She learned what it meant to take herself out a situation she knew she couldn’t handle.  Joining Facebook and Twitter wasn’t fard upon her, so she limited herself in this medium of entertainment and connection.

She promised to never let this happen to her again, especially not during Ramadan.

—-

Part of this story sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it?

Please, let’s not allow for this happen to us this Ramadan.  Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GChat, or anything else, we must delete, unsubscribe, unfollow anyone who is distracting us from our worship and creating fitnah for us in our lives.  This is the time of the year when Shaytan is locked up.  Also, fasting is recommended for those who feel like they can not control their physical desires, so we should take advantage of this 30 day block of fasting that we have and make a clean cut from members of the opposite gender, especially in our interactions online.   A lot of the times, we ignore gender relations online, and we undermine and underestimate the impact it may have.

Believe me, from all of the stories I’ve heard, it almost always starts online.

And maybe in retrospect we realize we got ourselves into a crazy situation…and that its source was just one “like.”

This is reminder to myself first and foremost. May Allah accept our deeds from us this Ramadan and help us make the changes in our lives that we need to be able to move forward and progress in our lives. Ameen.

Driving through Newport Beach

15
May
12

Tajweed Class

Assalamualaykum!

I just got back from a weekend trip to Houston for Al Maghrib’s Fiqh of Modern Women’s Issues seminar, “Complicated?” and all I can say is that this was one of the most beneficial, enlightening, and enjoyable Al Maghrib classes that I’ve taken, even including Ilm Summit classes!  I would highly recommend this seminar to anyone who has not yet taken it, even brothers!  Jazakum Allahu Khayran to Shaykh Waleed, the Houston girls who took care of us, the Dallas crew who traveled out, and to Qabeelat Hosna!

Shaykh Waleed Basyouni teaching "Complicated?" Fiqh of Modern Women's Issues

Shaykh Waleed Basyouni teaching “Complicated?” Fiqh of Modern Women’s Issues

Alhamdulillah, it has been over 8 months into the Dream program and we are nearing the end alarmingly fast.  It still feels like a “dream” and I still ask myself nearly every day, how in the world did I end up here, in Dallas, learning Arabic?!  Every time I think about it,  I’ve found that it’s completely unavoidable  for those thoughts to always somehow connect back to music.  Music has a special importance to me because it was such a huge part of my life for such a long time.  Before I started caring about Islam and practicing it, the only thing that was in my life was music–it was my lifestyle, my source of guidance, my best friend, my happiness and sadness, everything.  Alhamdulillah, that is a stage of the past and I am working every day in hopes that Allah will forgive all my sins and consider me to be one of the members of the people of the Qur’an.

But how did I get from music to Islam, and to the point especially now in which I am studying Arabic and the Qur’an?

Br. Nouman Ali Khan said something that really resonated with me during his episode of the Deen Show, “Muslim Who urned to Athiest and Back to Islam.”  He said that he stuck with learning Arabic when he became more practicing and passionate about Islam because it was the first thing that really called him into Islam and one of the things he enjoyed the most.   So when he was deciding how to keep growing as a Muslim and what he wanted to study from all the Islamic sciences, Arabic was what he settled with.

Similarly, that’s the mentality that I used to pursue my calling in Islam.  I’ve traced my interest and love for Islam back, and there is no doubt that the major progress I’ve experienced as a Muslim seeking knowledge and coming closer to Allah was because of my Tajweed Class my freshman year in college. 

I wrote a creative piece 2 years back called “Tajweed Class” and it talks about my journey from music towards the Qur’an, and I’d like to share it with all of you 🙂  It was posted as a guest post on SuhaibWebb.com, and you can read it on his website here, or check it out below.

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Tajweed Class

Teacher: “Where have you been this whole time?”

I think, subhan’Allah, where have I been? It’s taken me so long to get here.

Me: “Subhan’Allah. I don’t know.”

I fight back tears as my throat swells. I was frozen, standing there like an awkward giant among miniature desks in the 3rd grade classroom of a localmasjid. It felt as though the universe paused; as though the air had stopped flowing. Even the paper animals attached to yarn, hanging from the ceiling, had stopped twirling in the AC’s currents.

I stood there – unable to breathe, unable to blink – thinking, where have I been this whole time? My life flashed before my eyes. No, I was not dying, but that night, just like every Tuesday night for the past three months, was a piece of the process in which I was being reborn. And even the paper animals, just like my thoughts, swung back around the other way as my life rewound itself to the very beginning.

I couldn’t believe that I actually grew up to be the type of person that voluntarily attends tajweed classes. I could not believe that the young girl who struggled to learn and read the Qur’an, the same one who found it a tedious and unpleasant task, would ten years later change her view completely, instead finding it still extremely difficult but now increasingly exhilarating and worthwhile. I couldn’t believe that the girl who faked being sick in order to skip her Qur’an and Sunday School classes would grow up into the young woman who would hide being sick so her parents wouldn’t force her to stay home and rest. I couldn’t believe that the girl who spent years in band and choir, the girl who was so addicted to music, would grow to give all that up for the sake of Allah and become addicted to the Qur’an.

The young woman I am today is a direct effect of the little girl I was yesterday, and I failed to comprehend how my starting point foreshadowed the point I am at right now. I realized that Allah, the Best of all Planners, works in the most mysterious ways and that despite the challenging situations we are in, the best outcome develops from them. We can reflect on our roots and compare who we were before to who we are now. This reflection and comparison of past and present humbles us and makes us evermore thankful that Allah chose us to be guided out of the darkness and into His light.

In the ninety-third chapter of the Holy Qur’an, Surat Ad-Dhuha (The Morning Hours), Allah the Most Compassionate consoles the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

“Your Lord (O Muhammad) has neither forsaken you nor hates you” (93:3-4).

Allah then gives him the courage to keep striving through his difficulties, and reminds him that the material world is transitory.

“And indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present (life of this world). And verily, your Lord will give you (all good) so that you shall be well-pleased” (93:4-5).

In verses 6 through 8, Allah reminds the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ about his childhood and where he came from, reminding him that he was an orphan, the most vulnerable in society, and now years later the Final Prophet of God. Allah is telling His Prophet ﷺ that He has always been there to take care of him.

In the same way, Allah has always been there to take care of us.

I realized that all the struggles, trials, and wrongs that seemed to have darkened my life were actually blessings in disguise and part of my life’s plan. Although I failed to understand them at the time and even felt resentful for having been put through such hardships (may Allah forgive me), the catastrophes and problems later turned out to be hurdles I had cleared. These trials came with lessons that turned out to be crucial to the development of my faith. I never imagined that all the music and singing I had learned would later be the reason I learned how to read the Qur’an.

And even though sometimes we don’t clear the hurdles all the way, our scrapes and bruises, are what we rise from and what we carry with us. “Voyage to your Lord, even if bruised and broken.” (ibn Abbad) The scars that I’ve picked up along the way, subhan’Allah, are the exact lessons that have made me realize my blessings. May Allah forgive us all for our shortcomings and continue to bless us and protect us.

I also realized that Allah blesses us in so many ways that we cannot even imagine, and I learned the importance of continuously thanking Him for the blessings. Only He is the reason for our success and our progress, and just as swiftly as His blessings come into our lives, they can leave us. May Allah take us from the earth in our highest state of iman (faith) and grant us the highest places in heaven with the prophets (peace and blessings of Allah be upon them.)

My tajweed class was more than just a place to enhance my ability to recite the Qur’an, it gave me a new sense of living that I’ve never enjoyed before – a life with my new companion, the Holy Qur’an. Abdullah ibn Masood (ra) said, “Look for your heart in three places: when listening to the Qur’an, when seeking knowledge (of Allah) and when in privacy.  If you cannot find it in these places, then ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (exalted is He) to bless you with a heart, for indeed you have no heart.” Finally, the days have come where I can enjoy not only listening to the Qur’an, but reading it as well. And insha’Allah, by the Will of Allah, soon I will also learn to understand the Qur’an.

I ask that Allah makes us amongst those who live and die with the love of the Qur’an in our hearts, and that our love for the Words of Allah manifests in our actions.

The last verse of Surat Ad-Dhuha says:

“And proclaim the Grace of your Lord!” (93:11)

Allahu Akbar!

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If it all started with the Qur’an for me, then that’s exactly the path that I started out on and the one I’ve been running towards all along, and will continue to tread.

What was your calling into Islam?  What are you the most passionate about?  Whatever it is, find it and pursue it in a way so that your faith will continue to thrive and so that you can benefit others from it as well.

Here are some more pictures from my trip down to Houston this weekend!

Driving through the boonies outside of Arlington, TX.

University of Houston campus–beautiful mA!

Installation art outside of the library on campus–awkward love stories in all different languages, Arabic included. Summary of Arabic love story: I knew she was waiting for another man at the station while I carried her books. I was just a Chinese fan that lightened the summer heat for her. …..yeah, awkward.

Houston skyline from the parking structure at UofH




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