Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sponge Bob in Egypt

And now for something completely different...




It won't make sense unless you say it out loud

PONSH
POP

Yes, that's how you say, "Sponge Bob" in Arablish.



Friday, May 25, 2012

Time Out for Khotba

Asalamu Alaykom,

Whatever is going on in your life today---whether you think it's going well or going poorly it's time to remember, "Alhumdulillah."  Time to remember The One True God who created you.


I'm watching a khotba from Yusha Evans but it's not speaking to me.  Doesn't mean that it's bad or wrong.  It just means that I'm listening but the message is not resonnating with me inside my mind. 

The believers have been given many messengers.  Here are the 25 Prophets mentioned in the Quran.  Peace be upon them all.  They are appearing in chronological order not in order of importance (since all of the prophets are to be reverred equally). 

Nabi Adam...in English:  Prophet Adam

Nabi Idris...in English:  Prophet Enoch

Nabi Nuh...in English:  Prophet Noah

Nabi Hud...in English:  Prophet Eber

Nabi Saleh...in English:  Prophet Shelah

Nabi Ibrahim...in English:  Prophet Abraham

Nabi Lut...in English:  Prophet Lot

Nabi Ismail...in English:  Prophet Ishmael

Nabi Is'haq...in English:  Prophet Isaac

Nabi Yaqub...in English:  Prophet Jacob

Nabi Yusuf...in English:  Prophet Joseph

Nabi Ayub...in English:  Prophet Job

Nabi Shoaib...in English:  Prophet Jethro

Nabi Musa...in English:  Prophet Moses

Nabi Harun...in English:  Prophet Aaron

Nabi Dhul-Kifl...in English:  Prophet Ezekiel

Nabi Daud...in English:  Prophet David

Nabi Sulayman...in English:  Prophet Solomon

Nabi Ilyas...in English:  Prophet Elijah

Nabi Al-Yasa...in English:  Prophet Elisha

Nabi Yunus...in English:  Prophet Jonah

Nabi Zakariya...in English:  Prophet Zacharias

Nabi Yahya...in English:  Prophet John

Nabi Isa...in English:  Prophet Jesus

Nabi Muhammad...in English:  Prophet Mohammed
 
There are more!  Infact, a Hadith; quote from Prohet Muahmmad (pbuh) states that there were 124,000 more.  We don't know their names.  There might have even been women prophets---Allhu Alim.  There were so many sent because their are so many different languages, cultures, and sensibilities.   
 
The Final Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh),  is the one who was sent not just for one group but for all humanity.  That is why we must keep closest to him even if we find affinity for another prophet.
 
I mean, who doesn't love the story of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him)!
 
And the story of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) is especially touching to me now that I live in Egypt.
 
But I can never forget the story of the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) who really had such amazing faith to trust God with his wife and child.
 
Of course we find truth from all the prophets.
 
Just like we can find truth from all khotbas...even ones we don't feel for in the beginning. 
 
This khotba had some really good thoughts regarding:
 
The Happy Ones
 
"Happy is the one whose heart is connected to Allah."
 
"Happy is the one who reaches the evening and the morning and nothing else is in their heart except Allah."
 
"The Happy One is the one whom Allah is pleased with his soul whose heart finds peace in the remembrance of Allah and his tongue glorifies him continuously."
 
"Happy is the one whom Allah prepares a pleasure due to his obedience.  And He is well pleased with him..."
 
"The Happy Ones are those whom Allah has blessed; them and their families, their wealth and their children and they are a cooling pleasure to his eyes.  And he praises Allah the Exalted for the highs in his life and the lows in his life."
 
"Happy is the one whom Allah makes the people happy with him so that he has a good reputation amongst them and he is loved and highly respected and regarded.  He is the one who only good is mentioned about him and which he is known only for good."
 
"The Happy Ones are those who in the last moments of life, Allah gives them a steadfast heart; a firm heart and a tongue that remembers Allah upon death.  For he is pleased with Allah and Allah is pleased with him."
 
Alhumdulillah.  I'm glad I kept listening.  We are given so many different messengers, stories, and good thoughts.  Let's not discard any of what comes our way until we stop and truly open our minds.  Maybe the very thing we are ready to be rid of is what would release us from a preconceived notion or a harmful practice.  Let's all commit to listen to a khotba on this Friday and on all the Fridays to come to hear words of wisdom however they may reach us.   
 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mr. Boo Votes for President

Asalamu Alaykom,

I am welcoming a guest blogger today.  He has a first-person account of the voting process in Egypt.  He might actually be the youngest reporting about this historic event.  He's so young that he had to dictate (like a dictator actually) his observations.

With no further ado, here is my favorite first grader, Mr. Boo.




This is a story about Thursday, May 24, 2012.


I went to a school and first we were checking if the big papers had our names. We didn’t find it but we asked the geesh [army]. And they telled us we could get in. And then there was a man. He telled us, “Is your number 32?” First my dad, he said, “No” and then he said, “Yes.” Then that man told us, “You can get in.” And we went in the wrong room. The man told him, “This is the wrong room.”

And then we went in the room letter N. First, my dad checked if his number was in that paper. Then, it was. He did a check. Then he went where there was a private place with a table, a pen, and a paper. The paper had lots of people. My dad didn’t know which person could be the president.

He asked me, “Which person would you like to be president?”

Then he told me, “Shafik or another people?”

Then I told him, “Shafik!”

Then he made a check mark on Shafik. Then he folded the paper that he checked. Then he putted his finger in a jar of paint and then he goed to a place where it was a yucky smell. It smelled like something very bad. And he washed his finger.

And then we went to Tanti’s house. I didn’t know why. Then I knowed. He was just talking to Abu Zaki, “Which person did you pick president?”

Abu Zaki told him the man. He told him he was going to be a good man president. Then Shahad was going ishteri; like she was going to buy. She wanted to buy chipsy.

She told a girl, “Come to my house to eat chipsy.”

And then we went Geddu’s. He was talking about, “Which president did you pick?” He told Daddy the president.

And I was thirsty. I told him again and again and again and again. Even he told me, “No.” And then I told him again and again and again and again and again. He told me, “NO!” And then I told him, “I need to drink water.” He told me something but I didn’t know it. I told him again and again and again and then he told me, “Yes.”

I knocked on the door and Amu told me, “Do you know how to open the door with these keys?” I told him, “Yes.” Then I tried to open the door. I couldn’t open the door. It was too hard. He did it for me. Then I went where my house is. I told my mom, “Can you get me water?” She told me, “Yes.” Then she told me, “Can I write this on the computer?” I told her a long story what happened. It was very long. And then it was lunch time.

My dad said, “Inshahallah, when you are a big man, I will give you an ID and then you will see your number and pick the president.”

The End.




Don't sell your vote.

The conscience of every honest Egyptian
is the only way to save Egypt.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Voting Every 7,000 Years

Asalamu Alaykom



The first democratic election for president in Egypt has begun.  It will go on for two days.  School is closed--THANK YOU, GOD!  There are, for the first time in a long time, hopeful expectations in the air.  Read more about it here.

May Allah protect us all.

The outcome is uncertain.

Like everything in life, we can only do our best and leave the rest (to God).

The good news is that Jimmy Carter is here!  He is the closest thing to a superhero American politics has.

"We can't get along with Israel."

CALL JIMMY CARTER!

"We need a home for our low income neighbors."

GET JIMMY TO BRING HIS HAMMER!

"Our election needs monitoring."

JIMMY!  JIMMY! 

My dad once sat down and chatted with Jimmy Carter.  This was soon after he lost re-election.  Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale had flown down to the U.S. Virgin Islands to recoup.  My dad was working for the Park Service and got invited to a soiree.  So what did my dad talk about to this great former president?  They reminisced about being sonar operators in the navy.

But I digress...

there's a lot on my mind.

I'm getting a grip on what hasn't made sense and shaping it into a more livable life.

In a way, we too need to vote for what matters to us.  We should not be complacent with the status quo.  Sure, there's a time for regrouping and negotiating between reality and imaginings.  However, too many of us wait for life to drop in our laps fully formed (as if we could adopt a life rather than painfully carry it within us until we birth it).

No.

We can be our own superhero.  What we admire in others we can cultivate in ourselves.  Marilyn Monroe was always romancing the men who she wanted to be like.  She didn't grow as a person but rather found men to latch onto who had the trait she wished she could have (but didn't have the self-esteem to explore). 

As a Muslim feminist...wait...that overly redundant again as being a Muslim is being a feminist...

I can tell you that our men and our children, our workplaces, our places of worship and our countries are not us.  We are seperate and successful at being who we are meant to be---if we believe that we are special enough to receive talents and blessings.  We don't need to live through others and feel good in their shade.  We can be authentically ourselves and shine our light exactly as that still small voice is calling us to do.

Voting.

Hope.

Change.

It happens in countries.

It happens in ourselves.

What's happening with you?  Inshahallah you're doing better today than yesterday.



Friday, May 18, 2012

Aussies Revert to Islam



This is not a perfect dicusssion.  There are cringe-worthy moments for sure.

However, what I like about this morning show clip from Australia is that it shows the reality of interacting with Non-Muslims. We have to be personable, accessible, well-groomed and well-mannered. We are Ambassadors of Islam.

If you have taken shahaddah, then you accepted this role of benevolent spokesperson for our faith.

If you haven’t taken shahaddah, then realize that presenting Islam in the best light is indeed a responsibility of all Muslims.

I think these three Australian Muslims do a good job at both being open and honest about themselves and at being good representatives of Islam. They listen fully. They answer completely and thoughtfully.

May Allah reward them for both making the journey and helping others to understand.

I like the remark from the show’s male co-host. He’s right when he says that we have not linked religion to extreme behavior in the past so why do it for Islam. It’s an analogous moment when the light bulb might go on in someone’s head. I hope so. I hope that all the education makes it possible for more understanding and respect in the future.

To see another Aussie revert, watch the video I've posted on Musa Cerrantonio.

To watch an excellent documentary on Japanese reverts, watch this.

Subhanallah, there are people coming to Islam from all over the globe.  When we get closer to Allah, we end up getting closer to the goodness of humanity as well.  Watch, understand, thank God.

Alhumdulillah.

Since it's Friday, I'm looking for khotba to watch.  These don't count as a khotba (fascinating though they are).  Inshahallah, I'll find something good and when I do then I'll post it to you.  Likewise, if you find a good khotba, post it to me.  Thanks!





Monday, May 14, 2012

Islamic Beauty: Hair



One of the saddest conversations I've had in Egypt was on the bus coming back from a school field trip.  There was a charming mom who had been so kind throughout the year.  As we bounced along together, I marveled at her dazzling smile.  She really had many beautiful features;  not just teeth, but flawless skin, and sparkling eyes.  But her eyes looked downward as she explained that it had been hard for her start wearing hijab because,
"My hair is my best feature."


I did feel sad for this lady.  She had this huge heart and the Noor of Islam shining from her face.  She had this effervescent quality as she spoke.  She had a beautiful face.  Yet, she erroneously thought she had covered up her best feature.

Hair is dead!  Let's not have our dead hair be our best feature.  In many ways, it isn't as important as the mainstream would have us believe.  However, I'll agree that hair is one part of our overall beauty so let's deal with the major complaint Muslim women have about their hair:  hair loss.

Many Muslim women decided not to wear the hijab because they are deathly afraid of hair loss.  They've heard that wearing hijab thins out your hair or makes you bald.  Actually, every day you are losing hair whether or not you wear a scarf.  You lose on average 100 hairs a day.  That's a lot! 

Hijabis worry and whisper about hair loss but seldom deal with rationally. There are lots of reasons why hair loss could be occuring such as a change in hormone levels, diet deficiency, stress or aging.

Dr. Mike Ryan was interviewed on Dubai One about a recent article discussing hair loss in UAE.  I contacted him and he agreed to this interview:

Yosra:  Asalamu Alaykom Doctor!

Please feel free to answer that which you can. I'm doing more interviews on my blog in order to have a wider scope of information and also more of a community feel. The world is big but we can reach out to others and gain from the interactions. I am really pleased that you made yourself available.


You are living in Dubai now but I'll assume that you weren't born and raised there.  Where are you from originally?  What made you travel to Dubai?

Dr. Ryan:  I was born in Ireland and raised in the UK. I came to Dubai by chance.

Yosra:  Of course, we Muslims believe that nothing is "by chance."  What do you find is a major difference between treating women's hair in the Middle East and in America?

Dr. Ryan:  There is considerably more female hair loss in the Middle East than UK.

Yosra:  That's interesting.  I wonder which country has the most hair loss and which the least.

The hijab is seen by observant Muslims as obligatory.  Have you had to study Islam in order to serve your patients better?  

Dr. Ryan:  No, I am learning as I work, as it is fundamental for me to try and understand culture and embrace it.

Yosra:  That's a good approach.  Do your patients often blame hijab for hair loss?  Are there different types of hijab (materials, looseness of wrap) which are better for maintaining good hair than others?

Dr. Ryan:  The material itself is not a problem, the fact that females are covered will impact on the amounts of Vitamin D being absorbed by the skin.

Yosra:  Is it true that low levels of Vitamin D might be a cause of hair loss?  Or is it really that anemia is a cause of hair loss and Vitamin D deficiency can cause anemia?

Dr. Ryan:  Usually if the Vitamin D is low the ferritn will be low. You do not need to be anemic to suffer hair loss.

Yosra: On your interview with Dubai One, you endorsed eating protein (with all its B12 and iron) to encourage hair growth. It sounds like red meat is the best way to acheive all that. If a woman doesn't eat a lot (or any) red meat, what's the next best bet?

Dr. Ryan: Vegetarians and vegans have a problem with hair loss, so they must supplement their diet.

Yosra:  Why is it that breakfast is important to your hair?

Dr. Ryan:  The follicles need a surge of energy first thing in the morning, so a good protein start is essential.

Yosra:  Does air circulation (or lack of it) play a part in air growth (or loss)?

Dr. Ryan:  Yes, but to what degree we are not sure.  Air conditioning appears to be a problem along with climate and humidity.

Yosra:  Many Muslimahs wash their hair, then tuck it up wet under their scarf.  Is this damaging?

Dr. Ryan:  So long as the hair is not under pressure or strain when tied when wet as the hair will shrink slightly when dry. Wet hair is not good for health reasons however.

Yosra:  What is the optimum amount of time between shampoos? 

Dr. Ryan:  Hair should be shampooed each day.

Yosra:  Then I think a lot of us are falling short with that recommendation.  What about the clips and hair elastics we're constantly putting in our hair?  What do we have to be careful about?

Dr. Ryan:  These can damage the hair shaft and cause breakage. No tight clips or elastic bands.

Yosra:  You also said on Dubai One that there are as many as 50 reasons for hair loss.  What would be the top 10?

Dr. Ryan:  Genetic, low ferritn, thyroid, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, poor scalp regime, poor diet, child birth, auto immune disorder, systemic illness.

Yosra:  Thank you, Dr. Ryan, for your quick and thorough reply.  There is so much misinformation out there that  I'm really pleased we could get guidance from the only Board Certified Trichologist in the Middle East.

For additional information this article by the BBC, though a bit muddled at times,  does a good job describing the cycle of hair growth and loss.  It's good to understand that shedding is natural occurence, and since everything natural is from Allah, we need not fear it.  If we have severe hair loss then it is good to explore possible reasons for what's happening.  Too often the hijab is thrown off immediately.

For me, when I noticed thinning hair, it was very upsetting. The first thing I did was make du'a to Allah to remain steadfast to my modesty. Alhumdulillah, it made everything afterwards go easier.

I made a lot of changes. I bought some hair oil and once a week I would massage my scalp with it. I switched shampoos to something milder. I also stopped coloring so often. Alhumdulillah, my hair is actually better now than before.

There are many hadiths concerning our hair.  I find it interesting to read about the use of fake hair.  What do you think?  Is it allowable in Islam or not?  Read more to learn more.

Coloring is something allowable in Islam.  The most important advice I can reiterate is to NOT dye your hair while you're menstruating.  You will not be in a state of purity.  You need to have made ghusl first before dying.  Also, the Prophet (pbuh) did not advocate black as a color to use in dying hair.

One website told hijabis that their husbands "deserve the best performance of your hair."  Yuck!  I'd say that we hijabis need to feel good about ourselves first before anyone else. If we know that we take care of ourselves and that it's paying off, then we can take pride in our appearance (even if it's undercover). 

We need not love our hair above all other physical attributes nor do we need to hate and fear it.  Let's find an Islamic way to embrace this small aspect to who we are.  We can realize what a powerful statement it is to decide that our hair is an enticement which we need not use on the general public.  We can have beautiful hair but use our beautiful minds to limit who views it. 



Others in the Series:

Islamic Beauty:  Face

Islamic Beauty:  Hands



Friday, May 11, 2012

Ready! Set! Khotba!

Asalamu Alaykom,

It's Friday in Egypt.  Time for another khotba.


I should mention that no matter which sermon in English I link to, you will NOT be hearing English right away.  Don't get discouraged.  The beginning of every khotba is done with some Arabic because those words need to lay the foundation for the meeting.  Be patient and the English will soon come.

This Islamic sermon comes from The Muslim Student Association of Houston University, Texas.  It's simple to listen to and understand.  The topic is, "Actions Speak Louder than Words," and uses an incident in early Islam to illustrate the point.

There are 20 ayat (the plural of ayah which means both miracle and verse in the Quran) which are referred to in this sermon.  You can find verses 11-31 of Surah An-Nur "The Light," here.

Of course, if you're hearing a khotba you'll hear the name of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  After hearing his name, believers wish him peace.  I did it in English but within this video you'll hear it in Arabic, "Sallaluhu alaihi wassalam."

The man giving the sermon is an imam.  Any Muslim man can lead the prayer and give sermons on Fridays.  When he leads, he is the imam or preacher.  However, not everyone is a sheik.  A sheik is a trained scholar (or he's supposed to be).  So not every Muslim leader is a sheik, however, most sheiks are also imams (in that they lead prayers in addition to being religious consultants).

A woman is an imam every time she leads prayers for other women and children.  She can also be an imam if she is giving the khotba to them.  Women get called "Sheika" if they are learned.

I found this article, "Challenges of Women Space in Masjids," interesting.  Though women are not mandated to go to the khotbas they should not be prevented from attending.  The Prophet (pbuh) made a special point of this.  Yet, within the actual masjids, women don't always feel welcome. 

Khotbas have an systematic order and you can read here what to expect.  Within this video, you'll see the imam sit down around 21 minutes.  For me, as a new revert, that break was the moment I didn't really understand.  Why stop?  That moment for reflection is like taking a breath between thoughts.  It's actually helpful the way that taking a big breath after eating aids in digestion.

This particular khotba is about the hypocrits of Medina.  What a shock it must have been for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to leave the dangers of Mecca only to find out that Medina had hidden dangers as well.  This morning, my Mohammad Asad tafsir introduced Surah 63 Al-Munifiqun,  "The Hypocrits," saying that it was delievered to the Prophet (pbuh) at either the end of his third year in Medina or the start of his fourth year.

That is where I am now in my hijrah and "yes" the bullies have come out to play.  The first year we are so eager to settle---both settle down and settle for what isn't quite right.  The second year, we start to see that changes might need to be made in order to live authentically as a Muslim.  The third year, we start implimenting those changes and

BOOM! 

Faster than you can say, "jihad," you are in a kind of struggle and wondering where the peace went.  Alhumdulillah for breaks.  No war is ever constant.  "After hardship comes ease."  Right now, I'm taking two days off from a place which has given me so much but currently is giving me nothing but headaches--and heartaches.  I'm learning a lot, alhumdulillah and realizing truths which have had to hit me upside the head for me to admit.  More on that another time.

The great GREAT thing about our Prophet (peace be upon him) is that he is a wonderful example to us.  He had a chance to really harm the hypocrits in his life but he didn't.  Not even when the person was at their most vulnerable.  This is truly not a man who lived and died by the sword but a man who lived and died by his faith.

Subhanallah.  Listen to the khotba to hear this amazing example of our Prophet (pbuh) and his forgiving kindness and mercy.

May Allah reward those of us who strive for Islam and forgive those of us who try to bring it down.  Just as nothing is capable of harming Allah, nothing can actually hurt Islam.  Alhumdulillah.


La illaha il Allah wa Muhammadar Rasullulah.

There is no other God than Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger.


“The Prophet (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers.  Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His prophets.  (They say,) ‘We make no distinction between one another of His prophets...’”
The Holy Quran 2:285

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Kindergarten Jihad





It pays to get enough sleep each night.  You never know when or where you're going to have to fight a jihad.  Look at the above picture of nice little kindergarten kids struggling for the sake of Islam.  God bless 'em!  Shouldn't they be watching Dora with a plate of milk and cookies?

Today, I fought a jihad in my school.  That sounds like silly hyperbole but it's true.  Just as a refresher, let me remind readers where I am and what I'm doing.  I left America, where people don't understand or often don't respect Islam.  I'm teaching immersion English in KG1 (pre-kindergarten) at an Egyptian school.  I have my daily hardships with children but the biggest upsets are always with the adults.

Our school is in super high gear getting ready for an accredidation team to come evaluate us.  Hey, the truth is the truth is the truth.  Frankly, if we are good enough, then it's something which is going to shine through no matter what.  Likewise, if we are not good enough, then that too will come to light.

But we're in Egypt where the rule is HIDE BEHIND A FACADE even if one isn't necessary.  Think of all the beautiful brown brides who pretend to look clown-white for their wedding.  Think of all the fancy paint jobs on beat-up jallopies.  And, of course, think of all the Muslims who don't really practice their faith but carry around prayer beads for show.

I work with Muslims.  I work with Christians too.  For this jihad story, though, I wasn't fighting the Christians.  Sure enough, I was fighting the Muslims.  Some were wearing hijabs and some weren't.  It doesn't matter that much what's on a woman's head.  It matters more what's in it.

The entire length of my room's exterior wall was decorated today in preparation for the accredidation team's benefit.  There was the word EGYPT on posterboard stuck to the wall along with the pyramids made out of foam core board.  There was ENGLAND and a double decker bus.  There was AMERICA and the Statue of Liberty.  AUSTRALIA with a kangaroo.  INDIA and the Taj Mahal.  All perfectly good ideas.

Ready for the bad one?

BRAZIL with the cut-out shape of a man looking like this:



Actually, I'm showing you the back view.  I will not be showing you the face.  Why?  Because this is a statue of a prophet (astragferallah).  We, as Muslims, don't believe that we honor the men of God by making likenesses of them.  Infact, we think it very dangerous as those statues become idols and idol worshipping is exactly what leads society to forget to worship The One True God (astragfearallah).

The image on the wall showed the eyes, nose, and mouth of a man whom we love so much that we cease to think of his physical being.  We think of his essence of love.  Jesus; Prophet Isa was all about love, forgiveness and praying to The One True God.  He didn't die on the cross so his body in the shape of the cross is not what I need to share with students.  Infact, none of this is appropriate on a school bulletin board.

So, I walked out of my room to view the display at the same time as our school's principal.  She asks me what I thought...and you know it's infront of everyone...the two ladies who worked so long on it....my supervisor....a couple other teachers.  It's hard.  I had to think whether or not I'd brought my super sharp sword----I mean, mind.

"It's really so nice and so much of it looks very good.  The one thing, as a Muslimah, that I disagree with is using a picture of Isa (allayhi salam) since he's a prophet and it's haram to make a picture of a prophet."

They brushed it aside.  A hallway of Muslims didn't really take me seriously.  Why?  I'm not yet 10 years in Islam and they are "born Muslims".  Maybe that's it.  Maybe it's because I'm American.  Maybe it's because they were tired and overstressed.  Whatever the reason, they weren't going to do a thing to this haram image outside my room.  My sense of deep injustice went in one ear and out the other. 

Frankly?  I can't work in a school which doesn't care.  I decided that I would do my best to have the school take it down.  If I was successful then there was still a place for me.  If I was not successful then I would need to leave.

That sounds drastic.  Leave three years of building an educational program?  Leave without any sense of where I could work next year?  I searched my brain and my convictions.  Yep, I felt this strongly about it.

So, I talked to those who I see making wudu quickly so they can pray in the store room on their breaks.  I talked to the nannies who fast twice every week.  I talked to my son's Arabic and Islamic Studies teacher.  I talked to the other Arabic teachers in the staff room.  I talked.  I made my case; Mom always wanted me to be a lawyer.  I did what I could.  I told everyone that I didn't want to be the only one speaking my mind.  If they didn't want it up then they also had to complain.

The issue went to the Headmistress.  I don't know why but it did.  She said to take it down.

Yes, alhumdulillah I fought.  Seriously, I didn't fight for me personally.  I fought because I can't be quiet when I feel deep injustice.  Alhumdulillah others spoke up too.  Alhumdulillah the haram is gone and a soccer ball is up instead.

So, as I leave you once again, I'm going to ask for you to consider what your jihad will be today.  Do you know it now?  Would you know it if it came your way?  What will you do in that moment?  Are you ready?

Oh, Allah help us to be ever vigilant how to serve You and protect the names and memories of our beloved prophets (peace be upon them all).  We do not need to make images of Greatness or goodness.  'It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.'

Friday, May 4, 2012

11 Weeks Before Ramadan

Asalamu Alaykom to You,



It's Friday in Egypt.  We are all wondering what the day will bring.  It's tense here.  Alhumdulillah that we who are members of faith can focus on Allah today.

Allah is The One Who Knows.  He has knowledge of the seen and the unseen.  He knows who you are better than you know yourself.  Before you can verbalize a thought, he knew.  He knows this day and all the days ahead until the end of the world. 

Subhanallah.

Subhanallah.

I'm listening to a khotbah which might seem out of place.  It's about Ramadan.  This year Ramadan will begin inshahallah on July 20.  So why listen to it now?  Because we need to prepare.

If we knew there was a life-altering event ahead, wouldn't we want to get mentally and physically prepared?  A marriage?  A birth?  An operation?  A trip?  We would prepare.

Ramadan?  What about Ramadan?  Are you preparing?


Let me ask you:

1.  Where are you going to be during this Ramadan?  Visualize that.

2.  When are you going to be reading Quran?  Picture yourself.  Picture the spot on the rug or the cushion on the chair.  Is there good lighting?  Is the Quran in an obtrusive place within your house?  Think if you can avoid seeing it.  If you can avoid seeing it then it's not in a good place.  Put it somewhere where you MUST see it every day.  Then you will treat it as a part of your life.  Make a goal of reading the Quran everyday in Ramadan---and maybe start getting in the habit now. 

Is the thought of reading the entire Quran in one month too much?  Then start reading the Quran now with the goal of finishing it during Ramadan.

3.  How many surahs have you memorized?  Write them down if you have not already.  Make an excel spreadsheet if you wish.  Put down which surahs you know.  What about your husband?  Your children?  Put them on the chart.  Make it real.

Which surah (or surahs) will you be memorizing before Ramadan?  Which surah (or surahs) will you be memorizing during Ramadan?  Which can your children learn?

4.  Which masjid will you visit during the month?  Do you have a place to go?  Do you know how to get there?  Do you have a way to get there?  Figure that out now. 

5.  Who will be fasting with you?  Who is someone that you feel together with in this faith?  And "yes" it needs to be a real person in your real life---internet (sorry) doesn't count like a person you can hug after magrib prayers.

Are your children going to fast?  For how long each day?  Make goals. 

Is there someone who is not in Islam but is welcoming of interfaith experiences?  Call them up and ask them to fast one day with you.  Make an effort for outreach.

6.  Who will you invite over to share iftar?  What will you make that first night?  How can you make it special?

Is there someone who is lonely?  Is there someone new to the community?  When I was alone in a new country, I can't tell you the immense difference it made in our lives to be welcomed for iftar dinner. 

7.  We all have children in our lives---even if they are not our own.  How can you make this Ramadan special for them?  School will be out.  Is there some way that THIS Ramadan be a time which they will remember EVEN when they are grown (with children of their own)?

For those of us who are reverts, we have warm, fuzzy memories of American culture at holiday times.  There are many of those memories we can recreate at Ramadan and Eid time.  Cookies?  Yes, you can bake them.  Cards?  Yes, you can make them.  Decorating the house?  Yes, as long as we are not aping another celebrations but rather incorporating the goodness, we can do it all. 

8.  Who are you now?  Is this who you want to be after Ramadan?  Is there an element in you which makes you feel dirty or shameful?  Don't tell me.  Don't tell anyone.  Tell Allah and ask Him to remove it from you.  If it is a bad habit or repeated action, then make du'a; a prayer that you will have the strength to stop.  Ask that this Ramadan you will rid yourself of those feelings and that addiction.

9.  Who do you want to be?  This is a chance...a golden chance...to recreate yourself.  Start imagining the person you would like to be.  If it's in your head then it's within the realm of possibilities.  You can be better.  Not better by anyone else's standards; this isn't a popularity contest.  No, I mean better by your standing with Allah SWT.  He is The Only Judge.  Since no one is perfect, that can't be your aim.  However, you should be able to get introspective and quiet enough to find the part of yourself which is shyly hiding.  What can you afford to let out?

10.  What do you want for your family this Ramadan?  I'm meaning both your family members who are yours by blood and those by faith.  Is there a way to strength the bonds?  Is there someone who has hurt you?  Can you forgive them?  Get ready now to forgive them.  Is there someone whom you've hurt?  Can you ask them for forgiveness?  Get ready to ask.  Think if there is something standing in the way; a wall of some kind which you can break down.  Maybe it's prejudice or injustice or maybe it's money.  Let nothing stand in the way and start taking down the bricks now.

Know how much zakat you are mandated to give in order to make your earnings halal this year.  Give charity to those who are due your help.

"No Regrets this Ramanda" is the name of the khotba I've posted.  Think how you can start laying down your intentions as a foundation to make that dream a reality.