Just posted up the first Muslimah on the Spotlight website.
I bought a book, a book that had great recommendations on Amazon, Good Reads, and from a friend. I was excited…a book about Islam that the general population, and not just Muslims are reading — and I thought I might use it as a book club to interact with the followers of IHiP. So what book was this, you ask, what is this “fantastic” book? It’s called Mother of the Believers: A Novel of the Birth of Islam by Kamran Pasha….but I have a lot to say about it, and not much of it is good.
First of all – it’s not fantastic. It’s horrible. It started out okay, I liked his introduction, I liked his rationale for choosing to do some of the things he did in the book…and within the first 100 pages, I was brought to tears. I was really excited. Then it just went all to hell. His story telling is weak at best, he has really horrible foreshadowing…at least once in every chapter you read something like “If only I knew of the darkness that was to come…” Okay, I get it, something bad is going to happen. On the whole, I think his writing is rather shallow and immature. Maybe my standards are too high…but I just don’t like it.
That’s the extent of my critique on his writing…now to get to the story. I must preface this with the fact that when I bought this book, I thought that it was going to be a story about the birth of Islam akin to the film, “The Message” with Anthony Quinn (which is a great movie by the way! Watch it!). I thought it was going to be retelling of this story but from Aisha’s (ra) point of view. Boy was I wrong. This is a story that is loosely based on the rise of Islam but filled with all kinds of additions, omissions and what I personally feel is an anti-Islam agenda.
Some my reasoning for this opinion:
- Throughout the book, Pasha seems to forget that Islam gave women the right to choose who they marry. Not once is it mentioned in this book – in fact, it’s quite the opposite – women are married off left and right to people without even a consultation on her part.
- As we know, the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) all lived together, each with their own room. Pasha, however, doesn’t choose to call it a room…nor a dorm, not even an apartment. No, the word that Pasha chooses to use for the places where the wives of the Prophet lived — CELLS. Yes, that’s right…cells…like a jail cell.
- Pasha explains why he choose Aisha’s age of marriage as 9. It makes sense: at that time, girls were considered women once they began to menstruate. BUT – he also plays on this youth, in a way that makes it repulsive. On page 179 he writes, “Not knowing what else to do, I crawled up beside him and put my arms around his chest. I pressed my small breasts against his chest, hoping the nurturing comfort of my budding womanhood would bring him some peace.”
- If that isn’t enough – after the verse is revealed that the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives are not like other women….they begin to wear face veils…the author has Aisha think “For whenever I ventured out into the sun, my face would be hidden away behind a veil. The bars of my jail would follow me everywhere and were unbreakable, forged from a tiny strip of cotton that was stronger than the mightiest Byzantine steel.”
There are many, many, MANY other issues I have with this book, but I don’t want to say anything more than I have. When it comes down to it, the further I got into this book, the more I felt as if I was doing something wrong. I have never been one to give up on a book….but I have on this one. I have only 40 pages left, and I cannot finish it; I’ve tried, but I just can’t do it. I was talking with Nye last night on skype and told her that this book is so bad, I feel that I need to repent after reading what I have. I feel like this is a chic-lit story written about Islam. I’d compare it to a Harlequin Romance writer choosing to tell the story of WWII – seriously, how good of a job can they do?
In the end it all comes down to this: The story of the birth of Islam is already greater than any human could ever attempt to tell. Stay with your original, and best of source (the Quran) and don’t bother with this book.
I was always used to do the minimum when it came to following Islam. I would do my 5 prayers a day, mostly late. I wasn’t wearing the hijab but my clothes weren’t too revealing. I would read the Quran now and then. But i didnt make my imam the center of my life. My mind was always somewhere else. Until one day, in late November last year, something happened that pushed my imam further. A calamity came into my life from Allah subhanu wa taala, and Alhamdolilah, 2 days later I found myself wearing the hijab. I then started to put more focus into my prayers, read Quran everyday, started listening to Sheikhs and widening my knowledge about being a true muslim. I now look back on that day and think that this is how Allah pushed me to a better state, because He wanted me to become a better muslim. I started to learn that everything that happens in our day to day life, is all from Allah. We have no control of our destiny, and whatever it may be, it is positive as it comes from Allah. Nothing that happens in our lives should be viewed negatively, as everything that happens is willed by Allah, the all mighty and all knowing. He is our protector, our giver of benefit and our giver of harm. All praise is due to Him, and unto Him, and Him only, we will return. Allahu Akbar.
Rasul Allah, sal allahu alaihi wa salam said: “Bear in mind that if all the people combined together to grant you some benefit, they would not be able to do it unless Allah has determined it for you. And that if all of them combined together to do you harm, they would not be able to do it unless Allah has determined it for you. The pens have been set aside and writting of the Book of Fate have become dry”.
Assalamu Alaikum! So back in November I submitted an article, it was picked as a feature article and posted here. In the last few months I have had to trust in Allah(swt) more than ever. I went through a bad spell of depression and was so far down at the bottom….I was on the verge of shutting everyone out. I was….down and out. I was still praying my salat 5 times a day. I was still making dhikr. I was still listening to nasheeds. I was still going to the mosque. Everyone seem to think I was the model muslimah. I was being talked about in several different mosques. People wanted to talk to me. People wanted to know my story.
I can’t say I liked the attention. But I also didn’t shy away from it. I did wonder though how people could see me as they did. Every time someone asked how I was, I would respond alhamdulillah. Their faces would light up. I thought, if they only knew the truth.
The truth…I was down and out. Going through the motions. Trying not to lose hope. Trying to keep going on with my life as if I was fine. But I wasn’t fine. I was in a very, very dark place. I was wearing all black. People thought I was trying to be pious. It was more like mourning attire for me.
I don’t want to get into a lot of personal details here but suffice it to say I am having marital issues and things are not turning out the way I pictured. No, we are not divorcing. We are staying together for our son. That in itself is not easy for me.
I finally snapped out of it after a talk that my husband I had where I realized that no matter what I did or didn’t do he is not going to change his mind about our situation.
I have turned back into myself. I did a lot of soul searching. I am happy with myself again. I am able to open my prayer rug and cry my heart out to Allah(swt) knowing that He knows what is best for me and He will help me and reward me, inshaaAllah.
No matter how down and out you are, realize that Allah(swt) is always there for us. He never leaves us. He will never leave us. People(husbands) will come and go in our lives, but Allah(swt) is always a constant. No matter what…..He forgives us, He loves us as we are. We don’t have to put on airs or change anything about ourselves to please him. (given we are not sinning of course and we are following His commandments)
Practice your ibadah, be yourself and love Allah(swt). He loves you as you are and He will help you when you are down and out.
Fi iman Allah!
Tags: Advice, Allah, arabic prayer, dark place, depression, duaa, english prayer, featured sister, Hijab, hope, IHIP, International Hijabi Posse, intimidated, intlhijabiposse, Islam, Modesty, Muslim, muslimah, prophet, quran
It hit me when I was in eighth grade, going on to ninth. I took a summer class at a public school. This was the first time I’d ever step inside a public school. I was so nervous. My whole life all I knew was the school I went to since elementary. The motherly teachers, the sister-like friends, it was like a second home.
Now I’m walking into this humongous building, there are teenagers everywhere, I didn’t seem to notice any other Muslims. I was scared to go in alone, I made my big sister drop me off to my class. I felt like a little kid but I was just so nervous.
I happened to be the first one in class, soon enough students started pouring in. I noticed a girl who seemed really nice sitting two seats infront of me, I made it a note to talk to her and try to befriend her.
I looked at everyone who walked in trying to fit each one into a steryotype from the many “chick-flik” movies I had watched. A few days went by and turns out I became friends with the girl who sat two seats ahead of me; Stacy. She was really nice, I was glad we got to know each other. She respected my Hijab and my religion so much, I was a little surprised to be honest. I was expecting to hear insulting comments from people while I was there.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t too late until I heard an ignorant comment from one of the boys who was sitting right next to me. He turns to me saying, “Sorry for your loss.”, me being confused: “What are you talking about?”
“Well I was watching T.V. last night, and I heard a Taliban leader got killed.” he says.
I was shocked at his ignorance but simply replied as, “I have nothing to do with that.”
I was so taken back at this, I was just getting use to this new surrounding until I heard him say that. This is when my identity crisis started. I began to think how my Hijab might push others away from me and I shouldn’t tell anyone I’m Muslim, they’ll judge me as a terrorist or something.
Even when I went out with my family, people used to swear at me and I started getting scared, people around me frightened me even more by saying that one day I could physically hurt because of my Hijab. So, instead of showing the world who Muslims truly are, I was running away from my religion.
We were labeled as extremists by most, who would claim “Hijab is of the mind” as “Islam cannot be so oppressive.” I used to get extremely emotional with these kinds of remarks thrown at me as I knew the Hijab was not oppressive but at this time I thought otherwise. I thought taking it off would give me more confidence and people would treat me better but little did I know.
The Hijab came off, I pretended to act like I had nothing to do with Muslims, when I went back to school and we talked about Islam, my ears would shut and I would try to avoid the subject as much as possible, I didn’t want to face reality. Maybe it was my guilty concious?
A tiny voice inside my head would constantly nag me, making me feel even more uncomfortable and inadequate. I had a few comments from friends like: “You look nicer with your hair out.” But, in the back of my head as I was thinking, I realized that my hair is such a beautiful part of me, and people judged me by looking at me, why should I share that special part of me with the world and give in to the idea that who I am inside really does not matter.
I realized I was living a lie and this was wrong. Hijab isn’t for the world, I only wear it for Allah and I should be standing up for the only thing that should matter to me, my faith: Islam.
I started to understand the true significance and beauty of the philosophy that I was subscribing myself to. I grew increasingly confident, more self-assured. For the first time in my life I felt that I was being taken for who I am, my abilities and talents – the person within.
With this new-found self-confidence, I began to take part in social and communal activities without shying away from offering all that I could. I did not even notice that by doing this alone I was in some way showing my community that the Hijab is not a hindrance and that one can do everything alongside it, if not more. Hijab was actually liberating and had become my gateway to freedom.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who went through this struggle, many Muslim youth today must be suffering from their own-personal identity crisis. I just wanted to share my experience with you, Insha’Allah it helps you realize that in the end the only thing important to you is Islam, not this Dunya.
I’m probably not the best example for anyone to look up to as I make many mistakes too, but if my story helped you at all then Alhamdulillah. I feel like no one really addresses this subject and it’s a big problem in today’s society. We live in America, surrounded my American culture expected to blend in but we also bring our parents’ cultures and our religious culture. Mixing all that together is not easy and becomes harder as the years go by. But, some things that always keep me going:
“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.’ (94:5)
“If what’s ahead scares you and what’s behind hurts you then, just look above Allah never fails to help you.”
Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, after all, it is only in the darkest nights that the stars shine more brilliantly. [Ali radi Allah anhu]
Don’t say, “Oh Allah, I have worries.”, Say, “Oh worries, I have Allah.”
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (13:28)
“And seek help in patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].” (2:45)
“Its true that life has its miseries. But one thing has always worked for me, worry ends when faith begins.” -Sami Yusuf
*Another side note: as a woman, I’m really sick and tired of being treated as a piece of meat or an object. When people look at me, they look at my physical beauty and judge me based on that. But, I am a woman with opinions that matter, I have a voice, I am a person with beliefs and values. I want to be seen for who I am not what I look like.
Asalam alaykum ladies! Those of you who follow our fanpage – which we update WAY more than this blog. We’re working on that little issue insha’Allah Anyhow, those of you who follow us there will know that I posted a link to MyUniverse on Etsy just a few days ago. I fell in love with the dresses she’s got there, how can you not? They’re all so beautiful.
So – I ordered a couple. I have a hard time finding real maxi dresses here. They may call them maxis but they’re never long enough for me. Based on the measurements that MyUniverse had on her listings, her dresses would be perfect.
Now, just 4 short days later – I got my dresses! I’ve never had an order delivered so quickly. Like, NEVER. Alhamdulillah!
These dresses are gorgeous ladies – absolutely gorgeous. Long enough (even for my freakishly long legs) and well made. I’m so happy with them. Other sisters had asked for me to post a review on them, and I’m telling you – based on my experience, you won’t be disappointed. The dresses that I’d chosen are already gone from her listings – and I haven’t got pictures of me in mine (they literally arrived about 15 minutes ago)…but wow. Just Wow.
Dear sisters – and any brothers out there reading this…I’m writing today because I need your help. My community needs your help. We have the pleasure of having Dr. Reda Bedeir living in our community. This bio is great – and if you’ve ever had the chance to see one of his lectures, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that he brings inspiration and awakens (or reawakens) hearts to Islam. (click here to see some of his lectures on YouTube)
How do I know that he has this great ability to soften hard hearts and move the spirit? He did this for mine. He has a gift, from God, that allows him to deliver the same message that you hear anywhere else, but he somehow manages to stir your soul with his words. May Allah reward him for his efforts.
Unfortunately, for unknown reasons (read that as “politics”), the board of our mosque has sent him a letter asking him to no longer give his lectures. You see, on Wednesdays, Dr. Bedeir would give lectures on tafsir (explanation of the Quran). Hundreds of people would attend. This, in itself is an amazing feat. When someone comes to the mosque to deliver a lecture, the chances of getting 100 people to come are slim. When Dr. Bedeir comes – we run out of room, that’s right, upwards of 300-400. Yet, the board has told him he’s not welcome to come back.
So, dear brothers and sisters in Islam, I’m hoping that those of you in my community, and those of you who have had the pleasure to see/hear Dr. Reda whether it was through a formal study like Al-Maghrib, or through a speech he gave as he passed through your city – I’m asking you to write to my mosque’s board of directors and let them know what a mistake this is – to push someone away who brings people to Islam, brings the community to the mosque, who inspires our youth, who has helped us to create a real sense of Ummah within our community – to let them know that this is wrong. Let our voices ring loud and clear about the injustice that they are participating in, and together we can demonstrate our desire for the inspiring leaders that are so desperately needed in our community!
How can you do this? Simple – here is their info – direct from the webpage. Fill their mail box. Fill their inbox. Flood the fax machine.
The Canadian Islamic Center
Edmonton, AB Canada T5E 5A8
PH: 780 451-6694 FX: 780 452-1243
Ladies – I wrote a while back about going through a depression phase. At the time, I thought I was on my way out.
I was wrong.
I thought that I had worked my way out, set my soul into the warmth of the sun and was waiting for it to warm up so that I could begin my life again. Instead, I discovered that I was back in that hole. Ladies, I feel like I’m trapped in a cocoon, no – worse than that; encased in cement, unable to move and only passively attending to the events in my life.
I’ve had to disable all my vids on YouTube for a while (I’ll be back, insha’Allah, I just don’t know when) the amount of hate mail that I’ve been getting is just too much for me to handle at the moment. I hate that. Not really the hate mail, but the fact that I’ve allowed it to bother me so much. I’m normally pretty easy going with other people’s thoughts of me and my choices, but lately…yeah, it’s gotten to me. It’s set doubt in my heart.
So – I need to let you know that I’m going to be taking a hiatus…from facebook, from emails, from YouTube…I need to rediscover who I am and who I want to be.
I am, however, asking that you pray for me – please pray for me to make it through this. I could use all the help that I can get.
Asalam Alaykum! I’m not dead! Al-hamdulillah! I don’t know if any of you follow my own personal blog, but I posted on there why I’ve been silent for so long. Let’s just say that wallowing in depression isn’t terribly conducive to writing.
Anyhow, I’ve been on my meds and slowly getting better. I’m certainly not back to what I would call my normal self yet, but at least I can see that I’m heading in that direction.
While I was in this dark space, I really withdrew from everything…my Hipsters, my blog, my YouTube account….the iHip YouTube, this blog …yeah…I apologize for just vanishing like that. There was really nothing that I could do, no way to get out of the darkness that I was in. Then, bit by bit and day by day, I started coming out. I started reading the blogs that I used to and started watching those Youtubers that I enjoy.
That’s when I saw this post from Sabrina of Slice of Lemon - I really love her blog voice and I have a feeling that if we ever had the chance to meet in real life, we’d make fast friends. Anyhow, she had this post from a few weeks back and it really inspired me. It’s all about creating new habits and how it’s supposed to take 21 days of doing something for these habits to form…so she has her list of things, I have my own (sorry, not going to share most of the things on my list…it’s just private, ya know?)
Anyhow – I’m planning on sitting down and making a more “formal” list by Friday…and hopefully making a video in which I’ll share some (not all!) of my things I want to change…Who wants to join me (and by default, Sabrina) and make some small, easy changes that will make us better people??
If you’re willing to share, post your lists in the comments box, on our fanpage, or link to your videos about what you want to change! Inspire the world!
Oh, it’s that feeling that most Muslims can probably relate to in some way or form; the feeling of being the odd one out. That feeling that seems to come about whenever friends, colleagues or even family members arrange a get together or just a day out. The thoughts that usually run through the mind are ‘is it halal?’ and ‘how do I explain myself if I refuse to attend, AGAIN?’
Well, it has taken me almost a decade to figure it out, but honesty really is the best policy (the answer was staring me in the face all along), and that doesn’t mean having to be alone. It does take me a bit of a ramble to get to the point, but Insha’Allah I hope you can bear with me.
I would be the first to admit that I took being brought up in a Muslim household for granted and up until my late teens, was more interested in the material world, friends, popularity and getting the best (or at least what I thought was best) of what I had at that very moment. The upshot of that was that I was unhappy; I was constantly seeking the approval of those around me (especially friends…that fear of being alone), which as we all know is unhealthy if a person never knows the true purpose of their actions, and indeed their life. Teenage years (and growing up in general) can be challenging enough without having to try and adjust every other term/semester in order to fit into the ‘in crowd’. But then it came, the Ramadan of 2006, the year it all changed for me.
“Verily, you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided.” (Qur’an, 28:56)
It came as a shock to me and those around me; I finally realised I was a Muslim. I have a purpose in life and that is to please Allah (swt). I do have guidance in the form of the Qur’an and Sunnah. I will be held accountable for my actions not by the ‘in crowd’ or the fashion gurus, but Allah (swt). I finally found a source of true happiness and purpose.
Of course with all this came a need for change and with change there can be hardship. But the Prophet (saw) said:
“Verily, if Allah loves a people, He makes them go through trials. Whoever is satisfied, for him is contentment, and whoever is angry upon him is wrath.” [Tirmidhi]
Alhamdulillah, I adorned the hijab with relative ease, but it took me by surprise just how much my social activities (and some friends) would have to change.
Now here’s what I realised when I got to college and university. Friends will ask you to go out with them and there will be events that will be considered practically mandatory, but saying yes to avoid being the odd one out isn’t the answer. Here are a few scenarios that I myself have experienced and witnessed (see if you can relate to them).
Scenario 1: Your friends (Muslim and/or non-Muslim) want to go to the students’ union bar and considering everyone on campus/on your course will be there, you’re pressurised to go.
Scenario 2: Your friends/colleagues have arranged a lunch/gathering/day out, but you find that there will be both males and females attending, so the likelihood is that there will be unnecessary free mixing.
Scenario 3: It is the end of the year or someone’s birthday/wedding and you’re expected to go because it is and will be all that everyone will be talking about. However, you don’t know if the event is segregated and what type of environment will be the setting.
Scenario 4: It is time for prayer but you don’t know how to excuse yourself from the middle of work/lunch/friends/colleagues.
Scenario 5: Those around you see you in Islamic dress and think for example that you may be oppressed, an extremist or plain old fashioned. They seem to have the wrong idea about Islam, do you say anything?
So what do you do? Do you shy away from telling them how you feel for fear of isolation? Do you say yes or agree because you don’t want to insult your friends/colleagues? Maybe you don’t want to cause a confrontation? What is the answer?
The best thing you can do is be straightforward with them, but remember to be gentle and calm just as the Prophet (saw). Most people (if not everyone) will be willing to understand if you just explain to them that it is against your religion for you to attend certain social gatherings/events if they are not in a halal setting (this may require some explanation so try and keep clued up on your deen). It may be that your friends are unaware of Islam (an opportunity for some dawah?). Perhaps there are other Muslims in the group who feel they cannot say no for fear of being an outcast, but will if they know they are not alone. You’ll be surprised how willing schools/colleges/universities/
“Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?” (Qur’an 5:91)
“And it has already been revealed to you in the Book (this Qur’an) that when you hear the Verses of Allah being denied and mocked at, then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that; (but if you stayed with them) certainly in that case you would be like them. Surely, Allah will collect the hypocrites and disbelievers all together in Hell” [Qur’an 4:140]
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him not sit at a table where alcohol is being passed around.” End quote. [Tafseer Ibn Katheer (2/435)]
“And those who do not bear witness to falsehood, and if they pass by some evil play or evil talk, they pass by it with dignity” [Qur'an 25:72]
It is without a doubt a challenging experience to try and keep a balance between the social and spiritual aspects of life. Even if you can’t remember a specific source or quote, if you are in doubt as to whether a thing is haram or halal, avoid it until you know. Never be afraid to say you don’t know, but always seek to find out because;
“..put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed…” (Qur’an 5:23).
It is perfectly fine to be in the company of Muslims and non-Muslims, but if you find that you are unable to fully practice your deen because of some (and unfortunately at times all) of them, which consequently leads to you drifting apart, it is probably beneficial to you. After all, Allah (swt) knows best. This life is a test and we must have sabr because we will be held accountable for our own actions, and we are encouraged to stay in the presence of those who will help us in keeping on the straight path; gaining the best in this life and the next. Alhamdulillah, I myself have now been placed in the company of those who are understanding and remind me of what is good. If you find yourself alone or feeling down, remember that being the odd one out for a good reason is a good thing and:
“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the prayer…” (Qur’an 2:153)
“So do not become weak, nor be sad…” (Qur’an 3:139)
“Verily, with hardship there is relief” (Qur’an 94:6)
You only have one life to make difference to yourself, others, the world around you, and the reward you will get from Allah (swt) Insha’Allah, so strive for the best in this world and the next.