Posts from May 2016

sidewalk

May 31, 2016

I want to sit on a sidewalk
Forget who I am
Where I am
Or who I belong to

Forget myself
And why I am
Who I am

My dreams
My goals
My half- baked ideas
Empty promises
Unfulfilled wishes

Unfinished stories
And unedited poems

Things we inherit from our fathers

May 27, 2016

0c5354e6eb3af2e1c5f499e980c781dcMy nephew asked me a few days ago if his friends were going to heaven -his Christian friends, “I don’t know” was my answer. Then we got in to some of the Aqidah and fiqh surrounding this issue. There is a disagreement between scholars about the issue but the two major opinions I’ve been taught is that if no messenger has come to a person/ people they are not responsible for their actions and will not be judged by the moral code of Islam. And some go further to say they are not responsible to even believe in God if a messenger has not come to them. Some scholars have said that no one is responsible for accepting the message of Islam if they only hear a corrupted message -for instance if someone hears the message of Islam solely through the depictions of terrorists in the media.

What if they know about Islam but only know of random factoids like ‘Muslims don’t eat pork’ or ‘Muslims cover their hair’, are they responsible for accepting Islam? Well, I know a woman who became Muslim through her initial interest in Islamic fashion but nevertheless it can’t expected of most to accept Islam on largely superficial premises. But what does it mean to accept Islam? What is Islam? Islam at it core is a continuation of the message of monotheism, a finality of that message. Each prophet, peace upon them all, came with one simple message, “Believe in God and follow me”.

Despite our love for prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings to him, Islam is not about Prophet Muhammad, it’s not about Hajj, it’s not about hijab, beards, or not eating pork, it is at its core about our belief in God. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings to him, was merely a continuation of that message. Had we lived in the time of Jesus, Abraham of Noah, we would be obliged to follow them. But why do we follow these men? Because they are the means by which we follow God.

When it comes to faith we must really only ask our selves one thing, do I believe in the core of this message? Do I believe in one God and Muhammad as his last messenger? If the answer is yes then what follows is a lifelong struggle to live one’s life in accordance to that belief.

Help me finish my Arabic program

May 22, 2016

_Device Memory_home_user_pictures_IMG02111 10.35.30 PMAsalamu Alaykum and Hello dear reader,

Alhumdulilah I’ve been able to acquire a lot during my time in Amman, Jordan. But I know that my speaking ability has been my weakest point and I’d love to have just one last semester to complete my Arabic studies overseas before returning home to New York. If you can help me by June 10th I’d truly be grateful. You can donate one of the amounts listed below and receive a donation gift including one- on- one Arabic instruction (details below). Donate here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=8FP57NNJN2LCS

Hoping to raise: $1600- $3000

Housing: $700

Tuition (With financial aid reduction): $1600

This semester’s remaining tuition: $1000

Donate and reap the benefits

$200 = Four hours of private tutoring in Arabic grammar or Arabic reading

$150 = Three hours of private tutoring in Arabic grammar or Arabic reading

$100 = Two hours of private tutoring in Arabic grammar or Arabic reading

$50 = One hour of private tutoring in Arabic grammar or Arabic reading

$40 = ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ T-shirt

$30 = ‘Keep Calm And Carry On’ Mug

$10 = Thank you e- card

(Donors will be contacted about “reaping the benefits” after the completion of my studies -August 22nd, inshaAllah)

Another post about hijab

May 20, 2016

jersey-hijab-for-women-13First, let’s just face the fact that hijab may for eternity be a topic of discussion. As much as we may attempt to declare that it’s just a choice or just a scarf the questions surrounding hijab continue. Recently one of my Facebook friends who is somewhat of a public figure decided to take off their hijab. I wrote a comment of support under her post. Not support of her taking off her hijab but the support of her choice to make a decision based on the circumstances of our time.

When it comes to wearing hijab in the modern age -if you live in the West, I don’t believe there’s a one size fits all solution. Hijab is an obligation and no reputable scholar (that I’ve come across thus far) has said otherwise. Not wearing hijab -I refer only to the headscarf as hijab in this post, is not listed in the section of enormities in Reliance of the Traveller, one of the greatest books summarizing Shafi’i law. The only time I’ve heard it mentioned as a major sin is when it is mixed in with a hadith mentioning women who are clothed yet naked not going to paradise:

“There are two types of the people of Hell whom I have not seen: men in whose hands are whips like the tails of cattle, with which they beat the people, and women who are clothed yet naked, maa’ilaat mumeelaat, with their heads like the humps of camels, tilted to one side. They will not enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance.

But it seems like a far stretch to categorize women who don’t cover their hair with the women the prophet, peace to him, mentioned in this hadith. So I mention it as not being a major sin just to put it in perspective that we are not talking abot a sin akin to blasphemy or adultery. Strictly speaking, a woman is ordered to cover everything except her hands and face -some scholars include feet in what can be shown, some exclude it. For this reason, I never understood the stress on covering the hair in particular. Many women feel comfortable showing parts of their arms, neck, ears, legs, chest and would in the same breath condemn women who show their hair.

“Asma’ bint Abi Bakr entered upon the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wearing a thin dress. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) turned away from her and said, “O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of puberty, nothing should be seen of her except this and this” – and he pointed to his face and hands.”

Yet my issue with hijab -or rather my issue with the way the Muslim community deals with hijab, is largely my feeling that it comes from a place of sexism and control. Imam Zaid and Shaykh Rami Nsour are two of the few scholars I’ve heard encourage men to also wear something on their head in solidarity with Muslim women. But far too many men demand of women a strength in the face of hardship that they do not demand of themselves. Far too many men are not interested or concerned about the safety of their Muslim sisters as much as they are about her covering. Far too many would rather judge a woman who decides to take off her hijab instead understanding why she has.

When we approach this issue with an intention of understanding  we wouldn’t be surprised when women choose to take off their hijab or struggle to wear it. Our beloved, peace to him, promised us that Islam would become more difficult to practice as time moves forward:

“There will come a time of patience when the one who adheres steadfastly to his religion will be like one who holds a burning coal.”

This is not an excuse to take off the hijab but it is a reminder to men and to women who find hijab easy to wear that they should approach women who take off hijab off struggle to wear it with kindness and understanding, maybe for them wearing hijab has become like holding a piece of hot coal.

I don’t know what the world will look like in the coming years, but chances are things won’t get easier for Muslims living in secular societies. At some point we may have to hide our faith, leave our countries, or live in seclusion. But what we must keep hold of is our prophet, peace to him, and God. We have to continuously attempt to do our best and be sincere and that will look different for each of us.

________

Are you interested in learning Arabic through private tutoring? Sign up by May 25th and get a steep discount: http://www.nooralshadhili.com/arabic/

Home is where…

May 17, 2016

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Home. It’s pretty simple when you’re a kid. At a certain point, you memorize your address. You know the food in the fridge. The signs on the door. Your neighbors. It’s not too complicated to know where home is. It’s a place your parents chose for you. But the older you get, the older I get, I can’t help but wonder where exactly home is. Of course, I still consider my parents home, home. But should I?

I lived in Jordan for almost two years, it was my temporary home. Now I’m visiting family then I’ll go back home. But I can’t help that nagging feeling that I should be starting my own home. Even if I don’t get married soon or ever (God forbid) I don’t know that I could live the rest of my life not being able to decorate my own room -my own house, or buy my own food, or choose where exactly I want to live.

I was somewhat on my own in Jordan, despite being completely financially dependent on my parents, it wasn’t easy. The joys were buying my own food and cooking my own meals -though even that wasn’t always fun. But I hated paying bills, I hate even talking about bills. And I never got the joy of designing my own place since I was just renting a room.

As we get older, home becomes a choice, it is a decision. So, where will it be?

Imperfectly perfect

May 12, 2016

JordanThe most perfect place I’ve ever been is in the neighborhood of Hayy Al Kharabsheh near Sheikh Nuh Ha Meem Keller. Not only do I love Sheikh Nuh but I love being in the company of the saliheen (righteous) and people striving to be righteous. Jordan itself reminded me of New York. Though the people weren’t necessarily diverse -a big difference from New York, the variety of places one could go and see were just as diverse if not more so than my home town. What added to the perfection of the Jordanian environment was its mix of old and new. Neither taking over the other. The Jordanian restaurants, fast food restaurants, book stores, cafes, the niqabis, the university students, the shepherds…

But, there is no perfect place. Even if you lived alone on a mountain -you’d still have to deal with the flies, and the rain, and your ego. An even in the Hayy, the most perfect place in the world, I had to deal with myself, and I missed my parents and I actually missed the difficulties of practicing when everyone else isn’t, the oddity of being a minority. When everyone around me seems perfect, being good doesn’t feel good enough. Anyway, now I’m visiting family in Dubai. There is no perfect place. There is no perfect place, no perfect situation, no perfect life. This is not heaven, life is filled with tribulations.

 

Finding the bright side

May 11, 2016

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

Nature

May 2, 2016

It just makes you want to sit down and be quiet
There’s a freeing feeling that comes with it
It heals you without knowing your illness
It nurtures you without use of words
It becomes a part of you as though it was never separated
Maybe it is you
Unadulterated
Full
Completely free of expectations
Just living
Without argument
Bearing with grace every hardship
In complete beauty
And submission
To God

_______

First published on my old blog here

It’s all too ironic

May 1, 2016

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It recently dawned on me the state of indentured servitude many of us are in or will be in for a great deal of our lives. We take out huge loans to pay for school, we work to pay off that debt for years to come. In some ways, this isn’t such a big deal since most of us go to higher ed precisely because we want to work. But what if you want to choose not to work? That option seems to be essentially taken away.

When I left college I had no debt, I went to an affordable state school and my parents paid every year out-of-pocket. Then to my financial misfortune, I was accepted into Columbia University. I hesitated because of the debt I knew I would find myself in after two years of school but with my parent’s encouragement, I went anyway. Was it a mistake? No, it’d be hard to say getting an Ivy League degree was a mistake yet financially I can’t help but ask why I put myself in this situation.

Then I left New York for Jordan to pursue Islamic and Arabic studies, practically I should have gotten a job after finishing school but again I can’t regret the experience of a lifetime. Now that I am returning home my next move is uncertain but this debt will surely hang over my head. We leave school with the knowledge, job skills and thousands of dollars in debt -why do we continue in this system of living? Are we too timid to tell private universities to lower their price or they’ll be out of students? Why do we feel so dis-empowered when even the promise of a good job post grad- school is dwindling?

If I could do it all over again maybe I’d defer my entry into Columbia to work and save so I could afford tuition, maybe I could have applied for more scholarships, or maybe I could have simply said ‘thanks but no thanks’ I can’t afford the offer. Whatever the solution whether making universities free or using our own influence to force universities to lower their tuition we simply can’t keep living as indentured servants in a modern society.

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