The Dream of a Fish in a Bowl, Intaglio print, 2016
By Usra Attalla
The Dream of a Fish in a Bowl, Intaglio print, 2016
By Usra Attalla
If I lived in a perfect world,
I’d get rid of every pimple and blackhead on sight
I’d permanently shave the little hairs that dare to appear,
I’d set a foundation so perfect,
That I’d be ready to face the world
If I lived in a perfect ,
I’d find an eyeliner and draw the most even line you ever saw
And take myself right down that straight path to greatness
I’d pluck every bad person out of my life
And shape my group of friends with such amazing people;
We’d be SOOO ON FLEEK
I’d contour hills and mountains
So that they’d be easier to climb
And I’d see what beautiful things were awaiting me on the other side
And even if shadows of doubt tried to decorate my eyes in beautiful colors
I’d conceal it so fast with a color that matches my own
So you couldn’t possibly see my struggles
Unless my tears washed everything off
Only then would you realize,
That it was all made up
By Kausar Ahmed
By Sadia Salman
(Photo Source: Reuters)
Iridescent in its own little way, his smile shows off a set of– well, mainly yellow teeth. I’m not sure which have been colored by the turmeric in the rice his family eats and which are yellow by neglect. He looks strongly into my eyes, still. His little hands crease more and more every day across his fingers, a daily engraving gift from the job he works at the corner store.
He is not a picture on those brochures of smiling little kids: “Come visit Egypt, we have pyramids, camels, and everything to please you O wonderful white colonialist.”
Perhaps, we should dress our harem in clothes to better fit your Muslim fantasy. Forgive me, the boy’s mother walks ten miles to work everyday and carries sacks of rice to her family to feed her family the same way her ancestors carried bricks for the picturesque pyramids. She shouldn’t complain, I’ll tell her to wear her kohl, her black eyeliner to hide the tears that well up in the pyramids next to her eyes– she has to look good for the pamphlet pictures.
Abu Amr, her husband, is worried about his son. Abu Amr is a superintendent of sorts. The term superintendent would imply that he is perhaps superior to the tenants or respected for his efforts– but we don’t know polite lies in Egypt, so he is a Bawab. He called me on my phone once, the sound of his South Egyptian twang bombarded by sounds of bread line chaos. Bread prices have gone up again. He laughs and tells me that soon his family will miss eating bread as much as they miss eating chicken and meat. I can’t really laugh. I was eating hummus with soft, chewy pita. He hangs up after asking me for the 1000th time if I could get him a green card. It’s not Uno, I always joke back. And yes, us Egyptians love puns. I promise him that if he stops smoking, I’ll teach both his older kids English.
You see, as much as I am critical, I write this from the comfort of my home in America, where people make more money as hot dog mascots than doctors make in Egypt. Where people have nervous breakdowns over the whipped cream to cinnamon ratio in their drink. Where people sit and judge other countries for their child labor, unaware of their realities. While not realizing that until 1938 you could work as a child. Even though I want the amenities of America for Abu Amr and his family, I hate those who sit in air conditioned high-rise NYC buildings and type up fodder about how barbaric they are. I hate nouveau tourists, minions of a colonialist mentality, fuelled by centuries of science (like the creation of race), literature (like Othello, the dark, dumb, angry Moor), and missionary schools set up across not-English places to educate the heathen. So it’s hard to love this country. Still, God Bless America for blessing the rest of us.
I was asked a few weeks ago if I would be willing to pen a small piece on “the state of the Muslim Ummah.” I gladly obliged. Recent victims of terror include those in Istanbul, Baghdad, Dhaka, and Kabul. Places like Syria, Palestine, Yemen, and Kashmir are living through occupation, war, and instability. Our sisters and brothers in the Black community constantly live under the threat of death as they walk down the street. Muslim-majority populations seem to be the perpetual victims of fear, horror, and destruction. Every other day, I am confronted with a new headline outlining the most recent atrocity.
What is the state of Muslims? The Ummah? Other than constant death and woe, I haven’t a clue.
I could conjure up analyses, report on current statistics, and offer a heartfelt and adamant essay on why we must rise and unite as Muslims. Yet, I feel that is, more or less, futile. The question itself must be examined. It is multilayered: the external or internal state? While the former draws more immediate attention, I deem the latter as more important. But in order to inch towards an answer for it, I must first aim to address another question: What is the state of my soul? I can hardly claim to know about the internal state of billions of Muslims if I do not even know about my own.
The concept of the “Ummah” is that of a transnational community tied together through the sharing of a mutual belief. However, if I am to claim membership to this religious community, I must examine the condition of that which ties me to it: namely, my belief. Each individual’s membership to the Ummah is dependant upon their belief. As such, it can be conceded that the state of each person’s belief is deserving of the most attention. Not politics, not the most current headlines, nor the most recent state of affairs. All large-scale changes take place with the initiation of what is considered a miniscule change. If I desire any difference in this world, I must first examine the workings of my heart, listen to the questions in my mind, and take heed of the state of my belief which lives through dynamic changes every passing moment.
This is not to advocate for apathy to the state of Muslims all over the world but rather to insist that I must always prioritize the condition of my own spiritual state if I am to take part in aiding others. Such a conclusion is difficult for me to swallow. Most days, it is easier for me to simply disregard it. Yet, I am mandated to first begin by cultivating a conscious understanding of what I believe in, why I believe in it so, and if my heart and mind are satisfied with the answers I reach. And if all three of these conditions are resolved, I must ensure the continuation of this consciousness every day.
If there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, then the Muslim Ummah is made up of 1.6 billion souls — souls that share a collective existential state whose only cure lies within. If I cannot change the state of my own self, I can hardly change the state of 1.6 billion. Any good for the state of the Muslim Ummah will come about by the courage one individual summons to engage in a process of reflection and to better their own self.
I am Muslim. I am Black. I am a woman.
I like to call it the triple threat, though more often than not, it simply means that my experiences in America are compounded thrice over, for better or for worse. I experienced hope in seeing the nationwide mourning of Muhammad Ali, then fear as Islamophobic rhetoric intensified after the Pulse massacre. I experienced a feeling of satisfaction and community on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, and I woke up to death, sorrow, and despair.
Alton Sterling was murdered by police officers on July 5. I spent Eid in a bittersweet state of celebration, trying to listen to a khutbah that spoke about unity, joy, and celebration while my people were taking to the streets. That night, as I scrolled through my twitter feed for updates on the case, the Facebook video that went live in the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile flashed across my timeline. I was devastated, angry, and suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of exhaustion.
I saw the Eid selfies and the Eid Mubarak’s feeling largely disconnected. I could not celebrate. I could not fathom how I was to be experiencing a sense of community while I was once again reminded that I, as a Black woman, was not considered an equal in my American community. I was reminded of my race when I saw a sea of faces that looked nothing like mine, smiling and wishing me a happy Eid without a second thought as to the inner turmoil I was feeling. I was once again reminded of my identity as a Black woman, as I live in fear of becoming a Rekia Boyd, who was shot by Chicago police in the back of the head. Or that I will raise an Aiyana Stanley-Jones, the 7 year old girl murdered in her sleep by police during a no knock raid. They got the wrong house. I live in fear of raising a black son who will become a Tamir Rice, robbed of life at 12 years old, during a police drive-by while he was playing in the park with a toy gun. Or maybe I will raise his sister, who rushed to him after he was shot, and was tackled to the ground by police.
To the nation, #blacklivesmatter is new. This movement seemed to have popped up out of the ‘recent’ killings of black men, women, and children at the hands of police officers. African people were ripped from their country of birth, their history, and their future, and brought to America to be the bodies and the blood and the tears that built this country. They were raped and tortured, robbed of their religion and their language, and torn apart from their families. They were told it was manifest destiny. After the end of slavery, they were thrust into an era of lynching, of Jim Crow laws, of segregation and inequality. They were told it was the order of things. After the civil rights movement, they were told that there was nothing more to ask for. That racism had been abolished. That the last vestiges of discrimination had been purged from society and the government.
To survive, to find solace, to find a way to feel joy, I and so many other Black people turn to each other. We celebrate in our blackness, our culture, our joy, and our beauty. We gather in our homes, or with our friends, or more often than not, in our religious communities. Islam is the most diverse and the fastest growing religion in the world. We celebrate diversity in rich ways, in our cultural dress, in our traditional foods, and in our ways of celebrating and worshiping and gathering. Where we fail, is our tendency to selectively grieve.
“The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” – Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
It makes me angry, disappointed, though mostly sad to see my Muslim friends and coworkers able to drown out the pain, sorrow, and grief of their Black brothers and sisters with a lifetime prescription of painkillers: apathy, willful ignorance, or an egregious classification of Black Muslims as ‘them’ and not ‘us’ It makes me sad not for myself, but for my Ummah, my Muslim community. To see that we can be comfortable going down a path that ignores a very visible, very painful discrimination against one of our own. It makes me sad to see my Ummah splitting apart at the seams, content to focus on only ‘their’ issues.
This piece though, is not one to condemn those who are silent. It is to share my pain and my sorrow. It is to remind my Ummah that to have tunnel vision is to create a doomed future. It is to remind my Ummah that taking painkillers does nothing to drive out the cause of the pain. Black Muslims are facing systemic racism, state-sanctioned murder of their communities, and a political climate that seems to be embracing intolerance rather than seeking to eradicate it. We must focus on the hurt that has been rampant so long in the Black community, lest that hurt spread to the rest of the Muslim community. To beat the bigotry, the intolerance, the racism, and the hate, we need the entire community to stand up and stand behind Black people in America. We must say, loud and clear, that Black lives matter, and that we, as Muslims, will not stand for state-sanctioned murders of thousands of Black people.
For I will not give up on my Ummah for my blackness. Nor my blackness for my Ummah.
By Taqwa Brookins
“Ameen…Ameen…Ameen,” The Prophet (PBUH) said while climbing the steps of the mimbar before giving the Khutbah. The companions ask him, “Oh Messenger of Allah, why did you saying Ameen 3 times when climbing the mimbar.” He (PBUH) answered, “Angel Jabriel came to me and said 3 duas and I said Ameen after each one.” One of those duas was made against a person who witnesses Ramadan and his sins are not forgiven. A person is truly a loser if they witness the month of Ramadan and do not work to attain Allah’s mercy or Jannah.
Each one of us knows someone who wasn’t able to make it to Ramadan. But alhamdulilallah, all of us are receiving a golden opportunity to witness Ramadan, so why not take advantage of it. Why not take advantage of these days, for maybe, we won’t witness another one? Ramadan is a guest that will depart in just a matter of days, so make sure to honor this guest.
Narrated from Abu’l-Dardaa’ that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Is any one of you unable to recite one-third of the Qur’aan in one night?” They said, “How could anyone read one-third of the Qur’aan?” He said, “Qul Huwa Allaahu Ahad is equivalent to one-third of the Qur’aan.”
b. Every letter is equal to 10 good deeds
Ibn Mas’ud(RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.”
“And if they only knew what was in the prayers of ‘Isha’ and Subh [Fajr], they would come to them even if they had to crawl.”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
“One who performs `Isha’ prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed Salah for half of the night. And one who performs the Fajr prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed Salat the whole night.”
“No Salah is more burdensome to the hypocrites than the Fajr (dawn) prayer and the `Isha’ (night) prayer; and if they knew their merits, they would come to them even if they had to crawl to do so.”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
a. Recite This Dua 3 Times Upon Rising In The Morning
سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ عَدَدَ خَلْقِهِ، وَرِضَا نَفْسِهِ وَزِنَةَ عَرْشِهِ، وَمِدَادَ كَلِمَاتِهِ
Transliteration: Subhaanallaahi wa bihamdihi: ‘Adada khalqihi, wa ridhaa nafsihi, wa zinata ‘arshihi wa midaada kalimaatihi
Translation: Glory is to Allah and praise is to Him, by the multitude of His creation, by His Pleasure, by the weight of His Throne, and by the extent of His Words.
Juwayriyah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) came out from (her apartment) in the morning as she was busy in observing her dawn prayer in her place of worship. He came back in the forenoon and she was still sitting there. He (the Holy Prophet) said to her: “You have been in the same seat since I left you. She said: Yes. Thereupon, Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: I recited four words three times after I left you and if these are to be weighed against what you have recited since morning these would outweigh them and (these words) are: “Hallowed be Allah and praise is due to Him according to the number of His creation and according to the pleasure of His Self and according to the weight of His Throne and according to the ink (used in recording) words (for His Praise).”
b. Recite Subhaanallahi wa Bihamdihi 100 Times in the Morning and Evening
سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ
Translation: Glory is to Allah and praise is to Him
“Whoever recites this one hundred times in the morning and in the evening will not be surpassed on the Day of Resurrection by anyone having done better than this except for someone who had recited it more.”
c. Repeat The Shahada
لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا اللّٰهُ مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللّٰهِ
Transliteration: lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muḥammadur-rasūlu-llāh
Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-Aas narrated that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Indeed Allah will distinguish a man from my Ummah before all of creation on the Day of Judgement.
Ninety-nine scrolls will be laid out for him, each scroll is as far as the eye can see, then He will say: ‘Do you deny any of this? Have those who recorded this wronged you?’ He will say: ‘No, O Lord!’
So He will say: ‘Do you have an excuse?’ He will say: ‘No, O Lord!’ So He will say: ‘Rather you have a good deed with Us, so you shall not be wronged today.”
Then He will bring out a card (Bitaaqah); on it will be: ‘Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha illallah wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasooluh’ (I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and I testify that Muhmmad is the His slave and His Messenger).
He will say: ‘Bring your scales.’ He will say: ‘O Lord! What good is this card next to these scrolls?’
He will say: ‘You shall not be wronged.’ He said: ‘The scrolls will be put on a pan (of the scale) and the card on (the other) pan; the scrolls will be light, and the card will be heavy, nothing is heavier than the name of Allah.’”
Abud-Darda (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Nothing will be heavier on the Day of Resurrection in the Scale of the believer than good manners. Allah hates one who utters foul or coarse language.”
Narrated by Ibn `Abbas that the Prophet (ﷺ) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night during Ramadan to revise the Qur’an with him. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) then used to be more generous than the fast wind.
All that being said, make sure that you don’t burn yourself out during Ramadan. We focus so much on quantity at times that we lose the quality of our worship. Of course, you want to increase from your acts of worship, but make sure that the momentum keeps going throughout the whole month. As Muhammad Ali (may Allah have mercy on soul) said, “Don’t count the days; make the days count.” Don’t waste any minute of Ramadan, for every minute wasted we won’t get it back. Now go! Make this Ramadan count!
Introduced and concluded by Omar Shallan
Contributors: Omar Shallan, Taufeeq Ahamed, and Naureen Hameed
Compiled by Umama Ahmed
The door closes behind me and I feel immediate peace. It’s no surprise the DCC houses no more than a handful of people cramming for a late-night study. Certainly no Muslim would be caught in the prayer room, ten PM on a Friday night. I set my backpack down by the far wall. Walking slowly, reverently, I retrieve the Qur’an from the shelf above the prayer mats. Time to read Surah Kahf.
It’s been a while, admittedly, since I’ve read from right to left. Trying to catch up to the graceful arcs and valleys of the Arabic script my eyes can hardly keep up with the soundless rhythm reverberating in my mind. The letters are like a friend that I haven’t met in so long, so they forgive me when I stumble across the slopes of the brush. I may not be as comfortable in their presence as before, but there’s no mistaking the way they exit into the air in whispered breaths. I struggle to pronounce elusive eins. I refocus, try again. When I’m finished I feel accomplished, like I’ve run my first successful marathon in a long time. On a whim I flip to a closer friend to finish the session: Surah Yasin, one of my favorite surahs (first comes Lahab, followed by Ikhlaas).
I close the book, feeling centered. I raise henna-covered hands to talk to Allah. Then I stand for prayer. I breathe in deep, declare my niyaah for Isha.
I’m outside Loree Hall, squinting into the sun. It’s definitely Asr, and I have class soon. I could walk back inside, to shelter, to hide myself in solitude praying inside a selection of squat buildings. But it’s so alluring out here; the flat expanse of green is covered in the shade of a graceful tree. So I lay my sweatshirt that I had no need of in seventy degree weather (and Allah provides us with His foresight) onto the sweet, bright grass and I smell the tang of life filling my stale lungs that have gathered far too much dust. And for a long moment I’m taken away, far away from Earth, and I’m closer to God than I will ever be. Clinging to that feeling I raise my hands in prayer.
There’s no place I’d rather be.
By Hira Shahbaz
Back in the first half of the decade, a few Muslim students (mostly through coincidence, activism, and a very generous Pastor) struck a deal with The Second Reform Church on College Ave. After a narrow majority vote, the church would allow Muslims on campus to use their space to pray in.
This was important in a lot of ways. For decades, Muslim students had been trying to get a permanent spot on campus to pray in, but were marginally successful. The church’s offer to the Muslim community was the first step in a long process that has, eventually, yielded progress. But it wasn’t perfect. Like any place that would be used so often, the church space came with a fee.
We operated entirely on donations, adrenaline, and tolerance. A few streets from Rutgers Student Center, the location could not have been better. Details were ironed out and an event page went live, marketing free lunch after prayer service. Everyone–and I mean everyone–was there.
Friday March 15th, 2013. The first Rutgers Jummah was nothing short of a movement. I will never forget walking up those wooden stairs for the first time to see the bright red carpets and the pure, unfiltered enthusiasm that literally filled the room from end to end; I will never forget the happiness and peace that truly resonated with me and made me reflect on what it means to be part of something. Rutgers Jummah made it very clear, from the first day, that this movement was about every single one of us.
At this time, there was no forum where people from different organizations and different sects of Islam all collected in one place. There are a few things in the past few years that have really brought our community together: No Rice, Chapel Hill, Eid, and, of course, Jummah. But Jummah worked in a special way. This was my absolute favorite part. Nothing brings people closer like standing next to someone while you make sujda; it just reaffirms that, despite our differences, we bow down to the same creator. Jummah filled in the gaps of unity that should have been there already. Jummah got Muslims on campus honestly, genuinely excited for something that was much bigger than us. We looked around and, for the first time, we saw a place that belonged to us–the Muslims at Rutgers University– even if it was just for a few hours. We felt energized and important and it gave us the momentum we needed to grow and keep developing into what we have now. We were in this together.
Jummah did little things to spice things up, like hosting a calligraphy class, an instagram contest #RURugLife, and a Salat All Kasoof prayer
People graduated, things got complicated. I found myself sitting in long, confusing meetings where we tried to figure out what direction this whole thing was going on. We didn’t know much and lots of people had lots of opinions, even though we all wanted the same thing: a place to pray on campus.
Although we sincerely appreciated the church’s efforts in reaching out and providing a space for us, we were beginning to realize that paying rent every month wasn’t sustainable. More importantly, we felt like it wasn’t our responsibility to pay for our own Jummah space since we were attending a public university. But, at the same time, we didn’t know what the alternative was–it wasn’t realistic to wait around for enough cash to build our own center and we couldn’t’ just stop holding Jummah.
Eventually, we decided that the best strategy for moving forward was to persuade the administration that it is their responsibility to figure out a way to accommodate a prayer congregation for us. And, the first step in doing this was to register as an organization. This was because we wanted a legitimate way to appear in front of the people who decided things like this. Instead of “Individual X Y and Z” asking for a prayer space, we could be representatives of 200 people asking for prayer space.
Yes, we could have let MSA take care of it. But we didn’t want to. There were a few reasons, one being that this was that this was too pressing and too important to be handled by an organization that literally has endless other things to worry about. Another big reason is that we were not MSA. Not every Muslim identifies or feels comfortable with MSA and we never wanted Jummah to be about alienating part of the community–that would be completely counterproductive, because the best part of Jummah is how it did the exact opposite.
Organizations need positions. The Jummah movement wasn’t about positions or power or “change” and “influence”, so it was sort of awkward for us to transition into a collective of people who wanted to work together into a board with rigid duties. Reluctantly, people signed sheets of paper and roles were given out. The positions didn’t change much–we were adamant on maintaining a fluid, collaborative team environment. But, there are always leaders in a movement, and we’re very lucky to have the leaders that we did during this sensitive and crucial time in our history: people who knew how to balance authority and democracy, as well as chill vibes and organization.
We established ourselves and were appointed an advisor who was able to open the correct doors for us. We collaborated with CILRU (center of Islamic Life). After many meetings, phone calls, emails, and most of all, relentless passion and diligence through a combined effort by all three parties, we were promised Cooper Dining Hall every Friday from 12-3. This was unprecedented progress–we had no idea what this would mean or what to make of it. After years and years of praying in hallways and staircases, years of talking to administration, years of going unrecognized, Rutgers finally conceded to giving us a place to pray in? On a consistent basis?
The first Jummah at Cooper Dining Hall was held on March 27th 2015.
Cooper quickly became our new home, except this time we weren’t outwearing our welcome somewhere. We are establishing a tradition for generations to come.
Since then, Rutgers Jummah has grown in size, demographics, and influence. In addition to our BBQs, we now host a biannual event encouraging people to “Bring A Friend to Jummah,” bimonthly “Kahffee Houses,” where we facilitate a guided recitation of surah Kahf before prayer, and are working to create a female scholar lecture series. The goals of Jummah have remained the same: host Friday prayer. It’s just easier to do so when we have paper towels in the bathroom and something to look forward to at the end of the year.
I didn’t grow up around here. I was the only Muslim in my graduating class in high school. I don’t have a great youth group at my masjid. The first Rutgers Jummah in 2013 is the first time in my life that I felt like I was part of a Muslim community. Rutgers Jummah sculpted a culture in our community that did not exist before.
There was no concept of “after Jummah” lunches, hangouts, and events. We are so used to thinking about things in terms of “after Jummah,” that we think it’s inherent to our practice as Muslims, but, I assure you it’s not–at least not for women. I know because the phrase wasn’t embedded into our agendas before 2013. That’s one of the reasons I love our organization so much–it single handedly facilitated the welcoming of women into a practice that is far too often male dominated. Sometimes I count the rows of men and women and I always find that they’re almost equal if not exactly equal, a wonderful feat in equality that you don’t get anywhere outside of a college campus.
Not only that, but Rutgers Jummah has reclaimed Friday as our day. I can confidently tell the people I work with or my nonmuslim friends that I’m unavailable Friday afternoon. When Jummah is over, I often find myself leaving the scene with a group of Muslim friends, and spending the rest of the day with them. This is how it should be, and it was only made possible because of our space.
It’s human nature to take things for granted. We’ve gotten so used to hopping on a bus and getting off at Cabaret Friday afternoon that we often forget to think about how we got there.
Make dua for our founding Jummah fathers and for every person who went to this school and worked tirelessly to ensure that there would be no student who would have to wonder about where they could pray Jummah next week. Although we deserve a place to pray on campus, we are lucky for the opportunity to get one. It didn’t come easy.
Like most people who are on “Jummah board,” I’m not really sure where I began to fit into all of this. One day, I was cutting tomatoes for our end of the year BBQ, at some point I was added to a groupme, and now I fill up percolators (mostly because I think chai is important). Jummah got me excited and I wanted to help out. It still gets me excited, so I keep helping. That was it.
But Jummah isn’t about the people who are “on board.” Jummah isn’t about sending any specific message out to the Muslim community. Sure, we try to class it by putting out tea and cookies and we want to celebrate the end of the year with an annual BBQ, but these things are just garnishes in the bigger picture.
First and foremost, Jummah is, was, and should be a representation of what our community wants and needs out of Friday prayer. Jummah is all of us.
Maintaining the space isn’t especially difficult–getting khateebs, dealing with administration, managing a budget–but someone has to do it. And that’s the thing–anyone can do it. If you want to help out, come help. Set up starts at 12pm. But if you pray at Cooper, you’re already part of the movement. Just keep it alive, because it’s one of the most important things we have.
“It’s not about what the MSA can do for me; it’s about what I can do for the MSA.”
These were a few of the first words I recall hearing during the first RU-MSA elections I attended my freshman year, and ever since, they’ve powerfully shaped my understanding of MSA.
To many of you, MSA holds a dear spot in your heart and a valuable part of your college experience. Whether you attend MSA because you’re trying to destress from college/exams, because you want to make [Muslim] friends, because you want to enrich yourself further with Islam, or because MSA has become your ‘Home Away From Home’ — this MSA has grown to mean something to you.
Many of us love this MSA/this strong community at Rutgers so much that we want to see it continue to thrive, as strong as ever. Then there are many of us that want to go even beyond that… to see this MSA do so much more –
We want to see this MSA host bigger and more meaningful events,
We want to see this MSA become more inclusive and open to those who aren’t sure whether this MSA is or isn’t for them, who may feel judged when coming anywhere close to anything that has to do with MSA, who may want to take a step closer towards Allah and want this MSA to help them,
We want to share the love this MSA has given us with everyone that we can.
And most importantly, many of us want to continue to make this MSA an even better place where others can grow closer to their Islam — something our MSA can only always improve on.
If this MSA has impacted you in any way, and if this MSA is indeed a place where you want to create some lasting impact during your time here at Rutgers, then today is the day you can impact this MSA. On Thursday April 21st, 2016, through a short two hour election from 8pm-10pm, you will be asked to select the people who you think should lead this MSA. The leaders are chosen by the people, and thus, it’s your voice that owns the floor today. You need to do your part to make sure those who are both capable and deserving to lead this MSA are selected. You need to use your voice to nominate all whom you know can take this MSA to new heights. Select those whom you want to see represent our Muslim community.
With all of that said and done, let me ask you – what’s holding you back from doing more in this MSA?
For 3 years, this MSA has meant so much to me. For 3 years, I did everything that I could to help this MSA grow. Now, it’s your turn.
By Zahra Bukhari
Who was it that started the rumor that Muslims don’t have a single funny bone in them? Because I have a bone to pick with them.
Ha! Sorry not sorry! This past year hasn’t heralded much good news for the reputation of our good Muslim brothers and sisters, so why not brighten the mood up a little? The Prophet (saw) himself saw no harm in telling jokes, as long as they weren’t hurtful or filled with upsetting lies.
So here’s a couple of things I found online that have made me go “I wouldn’t mind hanging with this cool character.” Have a little laugh!
By Hira Shahbaz
By Zahra Bukhari
Over the past week we have been exposed to temperatures that have chilled us to our bones. Unlike others, we can go into our homes, enjoy a hot beverage, topped with whipped cream and marshmallows. We can curl ourselves into our beds and pray that we never have to leave its encircling warmth. Unfortunately others do not have this luxury. Over the weekend, New York’s homeless were collected into shelters to protect them from the cold. Occurrences like this help people remember to be thankful for what they have. Sadly, there are people who do not have the ability to brave the cold. Refugees from Syria have left their lives behind and are unable to provide enough coverage for themselves. Some conditions do not afford them the ability to have a home or shelter to keep the weather away. So people have been asking, how can an individual wear their house?
At Royal College of Art, Interior Design and Textiles, a group of students have embarked on a project to answer that question. These UK students are creating a type of coat that serves as a mobile home. The cloth can transform into a tent with space for a couple of adults and children. Then it can be used as a sleeping bag when moved a different way. It also has water-protected pockets to keep documentation and various other objects safe. This piece of clothing will be made from Tyvex, a synthetic material that is not easy to tear. These students hope to finish perfecting their prototype by the end of the summer and have created a Kickstarter to help fund the mass production of this beneficial cloth.
Link to the Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/873662572/syrian-refugee-wearable-dwelling
By Fiha Abdulrahman
College has been a transformative experience for me. I entered as a slightly awkward and extremely enthusiastic first-year, ready to tackle what I was told repeatedly would be the best four years of my life. Four surprisingly quick and extremely unique years later, I would like to write a response to all the aunties, family members and distant friends who can’t help but continuously remind me that the best four years of my life are over. For all you nay-sayers, here are my Top 10 Reasons why College will not be the best four years of my life:
1. It’s not all downhill from here. And seriously, who even says that?!
2. You’re escaping the Rutgers screw- need I say more?
3. In the real world, there’s no Webreg screwing you over. Now you have no reason to throw your laptop across the room!
4. Post-graduation life (hopefully) is free of roommates who steal your last granola bar or take hour long showers.
5. The lack of tuition should save you just about enough money that you’ll no longer feel like you’re living a series of National Treasure trying to locate free food on campus.
6. All nighters. Please raise your hand if you’re going to miss staying up till 4 am working on a paper that numbs your brain, until you give up and increase the font size and shift margins and pray that your professor won’t notice.
7. Lack of tuition = more money = no more cheap and gross coffee! Spend that money where it matters most.
8. Group projects. Enough said.
9.The uncomfortable feeling of being surrounded by a (what feels like) a million bodies on a crowded LX.
In all seriousness, most of us seniors are only slightly coming terms with the fact that these incredible four years are ending. It’s a sad reality that we have to accept, but inshAllah these four years will not be the best four years of our lives. These four years have been incredible and unforgettable, but they’re going to serve as the means to a greater and more successful future. Here’s to 4 amazing years, and inshAllah many more.
The time has come. Super Bowl 50 will be upon us this Sunday February 7th at 6:30 and boy does this matchup have a lot of intrigue. Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning, essentially the new vs. the old “Sheriff”. WIll Peyton be able to survive the stifling Carolina defense? Will Cam evolve into the masterful running, athletic QB we have not seen since Michael Vick in his prime? Can Josh Norman shut down Demaryius Thomas? How many interceptions will Luke Kuechly have? Can Cam run over a Broncos defense lead by Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, and Sylvester Williams? There are so many questions that need answering and I am gonna answer them
Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning?
Old generation vs. New generation. In what very well be Peyton Manning’s last game this game should have some real intrigue. But let’s get into this All-Star QB matchup.
Peyton clearly is not his old same stuff, largely due to injuries. This season he only had 9 TD’s and a whopping 17 interceptions to go along with a 59.8% completion percentage in 10 games. Extremely un-Peyton like. And at times against the Steelers, he looked incredibly uncomfortable against the defense. It was the Broncos defense that really led them as the Broncos were actually down for most of that game. Same with New England. In the 2 playoff games against them, his completion percentage was only 55.1% and boasts a QBR of just 34.5. Not very good. BUT. This is Peyton Manning we are talking about. A guy who has been their (third super bowl) and won a ring to go along with 26 playoff games. The experience is clearly there. He is a clutch QB that when hot, defenses will be begging to get off the field. If he can find the fountain of youth the Broncos will have a chance, but they gotta stop this next guy.
Cam Newton has unquestionably been the NFL’s MVP leading the Panthers to an incredible 15-1 record that was only a TD against the Falcons away from 16-0. This guy is an athletic freak. His QB skills were on point with 35 TD’s and just 14 interceptions this season. But it’s his running ability that makes him the biggest dual-threat in the game. He had 636 yards with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. These are Michael Vick in his prime numbers. And in the playoffs, he’s only gotten better. A QBR of 84.0 and a completion percentage of 70% in two playoff games that included a whooping of the 13-3, #2 seed Cardinals 49-15. He has been beyond impressive especially with the receiver talent he has had to work with. He does not exactly have a Pro Bowl receiver. He’s been able to do a lot with less and that’s why he’s been so special leading the Panthers to a #2 ranking in offensive efficiency. They may not be flashy, but they are efficient and Cam is a huge reason.
Advantage: Cam Newton, Panthers
Denver Offense vs. Carolina Defense
This is the main match-up that can really decide the game. Looking at what Peyton has, his receiver talent exceeds that of the Panthers boasting the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Owen Daniels, and Vernon Davis. His running back play of Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson has been very solid. Neither of them are 1,000 yard rushers, but they get the job done. Peyton too can turn a nobody into a somebody. Peyton personally makes a wide receiver’s career. However, it is not without flaw. The O-line does have injuries most notably Ryan Clady, an all Pro-Bowler that protects Peyton’s blindside he is out. Their overall offensive efficiency was ranked 23rd overall. The Broncos’ offense is one of the NFL’s worst red zone units (47.7 percent conversion rate, 28th overall). Denver’s QBs (Manning and Osweiler) threw just 13 TDs inside the 20 this season, compared with a league-high 26 in 2014. They’ll face a Carolina defense that’s stout in the red zone (52.5 percent, 10th overall) and overall allowed opponents to score on just 26.5 percent of drives, the lowest rate in the NFL. Demaryius Thomas, a guy who had 1,304 yards in the regular season has been nowhere to be found in the playoffs gaining only 52 yards and 0 TD’s in 2 games. He will be facing Josh Norman, who is widely considered as of now the best CB in football. Good luck. But this is the Broncos and this is Peyton Manning. When hot, this offense can be explosive like in 2013 when they scored a record-breaking 606 points in the regular season with Peyton having 55 TD’s (an NFL record) that season. Most of the guys from that team are still there. This is a big-play offense that should not be overlooked. The Broncos may not have been good offensively, but Peyton was injured. Imagine him healthy. But the Broncos will have their hands full.
This Panthers defense can be argued as the best in the NFL and the hardest the Broncos will face all season. Boasting an overall #2 defensive efficiency ranking this defense is absolutely vicious. Lead by the defensive MVP Luke Kuechly, who you can argue is just as important as Cam, Thomas Davis, Josh Norman, Cortland Finnegan, Kurt Coleman, and the never aging Roman Harper, this defense has made offenses suffer. Just ask the Cardinals who only mustered 15 points and the Panther defense had an incredible 6 takeaways from a team that many considered to be a well-rounded team in the Cardinals. So much for that. Josh Norman has widely been in the news for getting the better of the likes of DeAndre Hopkins,, Dez Bryant, Allen Robinson and who can forget about Odell Beckham…and I’m a Giants fan. Norman has shut his receivers down and has rightfully backed up his talk. With Thomas not producing for the Broncos this playoffs, Norman is sure to shut him down too. I do expect it. Then, there’s Luke Kuechly. This is guys is really good. So good, that as a LB, he already has 2 interceptions, in the playoffs. He is the defensive leader of this team leading in tackles with 118. He is probably the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. These are only 2 of the many Panther names The opponent QBR against them is 32.3, very similar to Peyton’s QBR. Peyton needs a big time and not like his old self if he want to beat this team.
Advantage: Panthers Defense
Carolina Offense vs. Denver Defense
Like I said before, Cam has turned a no name receiving corps outside of TE Greg Olsen, into an incredibly efficient offense, ranking #2 overall in offense. They also boast the #2 rushing offense in terms of yards lead by Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and yes, the QB Cam Newton with 2,282 yards this season. This is a dual-threat offense where there is balance between pass and run. On pass, be wary of Greg Olsen who had 1,104 yards this season and 190 yards in 2 playoff games. He is the go-to target for Cam Newton. Ted Ginn and Jerricho Cotchery are targets as well. Ginn is much better served in special teams. Cam Newton threw 68 passes of 21 yards or more this season, tied for the third most overall. And Newton torches blitzing defenses. 23.3 percent of Newton’s completions vs. the blitz went for 20 yards or more, compared with just 13.9 percent when defenses didn’t bring heat. And Denver is third overall in QBR allowed when they blitz, but Cam can torch the blitz which is why he is such a threat. His QBR vs. the blitz is 80.4, good for 7th in the league. He can perform under pressure. And the O-line of Oher, Norwell, Kalil, Turner, and Remmers have been spectacular and a huge reason why the run game is so good. Like I said before, the names are not flashy, but they are efficient and a dual-threat, which makes them so lethal.
However, as good as the Panthers are on offense, their was only one team that was above the Panthers in defensive efficiency, and that what the Denver Broncos ranked #1 overall. This is the hardest defense the Panthers will face and for good reason. DC Wade Phillips has done an unbelievable job boasting the best defense in the NFL with the likes of Demarcus Ware, the sack happy Von Miller, Aqib Talib, a CB who can also argue he’s the best, Chris Harris JR. Danny Trevathan, and T.J. Ward to name a few. If you thought the Panthers LBs were good, wait till you see the Broncos of Ware, Miller, Trevathan, and Brandon Marshall (no not the WR). This defense gets the sacks. 52 in the regular season leading the NFL with Von Miller accounting for 11 of them. Oh speaking of Miller his 2.5 sacks in the playoffs are third overall in the playoffs. Cam might be good against the blitz, but Cam has not played a defense that can get to the QB like this. Total Defense, Denver was #1 in the regular season with only 4,530 yards. And in coverage this team is fantastic boasting #1 in overall passing yards and receiving yards in all of the NFL. They also had the most interceptions in the NFL with 23. Lots of #1 overall ranking for this defense As good as the Panthers offense is, they have not faced played a defense as widely touted and physical as this one. They will have their hands full.
Advantage: Denver defense
I fully expect this to be a defensive battle in the end. As good as Cam and Peyton are, the defenses they both have will really decide the game. It can also be dependent on who keeps the defense off the field better. With Cam and that Panthers offense having a dual-threat offense and we do not know what Peyton will bring, as much as anyone would love to see “The Sheriff” win this game that could possibly be his last, the Panthers offense is such a dual-threat and hard to contain along with their defense they should come out on top.
Panthers: 23, Broncos: 14
I got a couple things to ask you this time around. I know they’re a bit trivial, and as much as people say I shouldn’t feel embarrassed of my du’as, I kinda am. But don’t mind me. Forgive my rambling thoughts.
So I assume you noticed my lack of alarm clock for Fajr. I read online that there are vastly superior benefits from waking up from a natural slumber rather than blaring alarm clocks. I am a night owl, so after many trials and experiments I have come to the conclusion that all I need is a little nudge on the shoulder to help me up. You can do that for me, right?
Also, can you help me find my Qur’an? I can’t remember the last time I read Arabic. All these shiny, new, and bland as beans textbooks took over the bookshelf and they’ve commandeered an assault on the veteran books that have made their home here. I think the invaders took my Qur’an hostage because I can’t find the worn text anywhere.
And there’s gotta be something wrong with my prayer rug. It’s been in the corner over there for ages and makes my allergies act up when I open it. I haven’t done that in a while, actually. But I can’t pray with all this dust that’s settled in the fibers. Tell them to make their home elsewhere.
Oh, sorry for fidgeting. My mom says to keep focused when talking to God but this scarf on my head feels like it’ll fall off at any time. There was this technique someone taught me but it just… slipped my mind.
I guess a lot of important things have fallen out of my memory, haven’t they?
Surah Fussilat, Ayah 33
Translation: ” And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah”
By Rais Ahmed
As we commence the New Year, there is a glimmer of hope for spring. After this weekend’s blizzard, spring seems even further away. It’s hard to remember that spring is actually awakening when we can’t even feel our toes. But inshallah we must remember to have patience. The Quran states:
Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere. (Chapter 2, Verse 153)
We must remember to have sabr (patience) with everything and remember that Allah (SWT) does not test us with anything we cannot handle. With MSA’s Spring Awakening event and these 3 smoothie recipes, you will have the patience when remembering what it was like to embrace a spring breeze.
A good way to say good morning. Bananas are packed with vitamins, energy, and potassium.
2 Banana, Sliced
1 Cup Blueberries
2 Dates, pitted
½ Cup Yogurt
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Honey, to taste
Place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
Pour into glasses and serve.
Raspberry & Strawberry Smoothie
Raspberries and Strawberries are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Raspberries have been credited to help with healing processes.
1/3 Cup Raspberries
½ Cup Strawberries, halved
1 Cup Yogurt
1 Cup Milk (or Almond Milk)
2-3 Tbsp Honey, to taste
Press the raspberries through a strainer into a bowl using the back of a spoon. Discard the seeds in the strainer.
Put the raspberry puree, strawberries yogurt, honey and milk into a blender. Process until smooth and combined then pour into glasses and serve.
Pineapple and papaya are rich in anti-oxidants and contain digestive system stimulating enzymes
1 Cup Diced Papayas (or mangos if papayas aren’t your thing)
½ Cup Diced Pineapples
2/3 Cup Milk
1 ¾ Cup Yogurt
2 Pitted Dates, to taste (or Honey)
Place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
Pour into glasses and serve.
By Sadia Salman
How do you explain patience to an impatient soul?
Is it like the persistent waves that hit the shore?
Or is it like a mother’s forgiveness to the ones she bore?
Unanswered prayers and agony fill your heart,
And doubts of ever achieving your goals depress you.
For now, the world may seem so very cold.
How can I be left so alone?
How do you explain patience to an impatient soul?
Is it like the messenger who preached a thousand years?
Or is it like an unwed maiden waiting for her prince?
Even after she had four kids?
To the single brother who works for a house full of dreams,
To the single mother who prays for a house full of hope,
To the children who cry for a house unoccupied by a foreign regime,
To the worshipper who worships for a house in paradise.
How do you explain patience to an impatient soul?
By Sara Zaimi
I can’t stop thinking about it. The concept of the “truth” is something I’ve struggled to understand for some time now. The truth is the truth is the truth is the truth. It’s simple—but is it really that simple? I think life would be a lot easier if it was, but as experience goes to show, life doesn’t work that way.
I heard a quote by some author—Gustave Flaubert, whoever that is—once that read, “There is no truth, only perception.” And it sounds insightful and philosophical but after having the concept in the back of my mind for some time, I’ve decided I don’t completely believe it. I’d say there is always truth, but it is more often altered by perception. Maybe I just don’t want to admit that everything is perception, but I’d like to believe that there are things I know correctly as truth or things that I can say I’ve perceived correctly. But I digress.
So now we have truth, and perception. There is the truth behind the way someone is, the way something is, why something has happened, etc. Some people might know the truth, and some people might not. Honestly, maybe only Allah (swa) knows the absolute truth. Whatever it is, there is some underlying right and wrong whether we know it or not. Then there is perception. Someone who knows all the details of the story probably perceives it more correctly than someone who doesn’t know the details. While it’s true that we might perceive something a certain way, it’s not necessarily true that our perception is correct. But it’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking our perception is correct, which is a problem. Not everything is as simple as it seems to people on the outside, and this paves the way for backbiting and gossip. There are so many proofs from the Quran and Hadith that tell us backbiting and gossip are very serious and should be stayed away from:
Behold, you received it on your tongues, and said out of your mouths things which you had no knowledge; and you thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the sight of God [Quran 24: 15]
O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is accepting of repentance and Merciful. [Quran 49:12)
The Prophet (Sallallahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) is also reported to have said: “Shall I tell you about the most evil ones from amongst you?” They said, “Of course.” He said, “Those who go around with Nameemah [gossip]. They make enmity between friends and they seek problems for the innocent.” [Ahmad and al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad]
Ibn Abbas (Radhiallahu `Anhu) said: “Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) was passing by two graves and said, ‘They (the dead laying in these graves) are being tortured not for a major (sin), but in fact, it is a minor (sin). One of them used to carry Nameemah [gossip] and the other didn’t save himself from being soiled by his urine.'” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
Why is gossip regarded so seriously in the eyes of Allah (swa)? He knows best, and it is not up to us to question His wisdom or take it lightly. In my 21 years living this life, it is clear to me that if anything, perhaps gossip is warned against because of the damage it can do to the person being discussed—damage that might not be warranted. Telling your friends in passing about a story you heard might not seem significant in impact, but when the number of people hearing and manipulating that story grows exponentially, it makes all the difference in the world—and you took part in it. The Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” [Bukhari & Muslim]. So before you get involved in the transmission of a rumor that might ruin someone’s reputation, think about whether it is something you would want people saying about you, if you were in their place. Above all else, remember that not everything you hear from people is true—stories are shaped by perception and agendas and feelings that aren’t always justifiable. Think about what you might not know of the situation, and unless you can verify whatever you’ve heard, keep it to yourself. And even if it is something you can verify, that doesn’t mean you should share it with others. Use your judgment—love for your brother what you love for yourself. Abu Hurairah (Radhiallahu `anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak what is good or be silent.” (Muslim)
From what I’ve seen, it is so easy to spread a juicy, jaw-dropping rumor, and ten times harder to inform people of the truth or clear up that rumor. We experience this everyday living in a world plagued by ignorance regarding our beloved religion. We want so badly for people to let go of the misconceptions and misunderstandings they have of us, and our beliefs and practices, but are we ready to do that for each other?
May Allah protect us from falsehood—backbiting, slander, and malicious gossip—and increase the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Islam, especially the ones in the #MSAfamily.
Back to my musings, I can’t help but wonder how many reputations and relationships have been ruined because of the lies people tell and the rumors that are spread based on false perception. I wonder how many people have been wronged and are fighting to tell their story, but have no voice. I think about all the lies I might have been told in the distance past, and I can’t really say they matter anymore—so will anything now matter five years from now? Probably not. If it won’t matter to us in this life, will we care at all in the next? Do we ever get to find out the truth about all the lies that are told—by people, politicians, professionals, and the like? I don’t know about the next life but I know about this one.
The truth about the truth is that in this life, you don’t always get to know the truth—maybe because it doesn’t concern you, maybe because it’s complicated, maybe because this is part of Allah’s plan—whatever the reason, it is not our place to talk about what we know nothing about.
By Umama Ahmed
Before I answer that, you know what’s annoying? Trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving celebrations but instead getting stuck on a three-hour long train ride that’s been delayed an extra half hour lugging around your monster of a suitcase, all the while hoping you don’t collapse from exhaustion in the middle of Grand Central. Trains are probably the most energy-sucking pieces of metal I’ve seen since my demanding toddler of a laptop.
And let’s not stop there: who’s to say you’re gonna catch a break when you finally do reach home from your incredibly long journey? Despite the fact that I’ve been MIA in college for over a month I do solemnly swear that my mom is gonna chase me around with a broom ordering me around like some servant that comes around to the house only on the holidays; here’s Hira, giving you an (un)willing helping hand every month, at your service!
And after it seems all is said and done and you think you can finally relax, you receive the news to get ready because we’re going over to auntie something-or-other’s house to exchange pleasantries “in the spirit of Thanksgiving.” Which entails making stilted polite conversation with that one (or more) family friend who spilled his drink on your favorite clothes not once but on two separate occasions, so now it’s awkward to even be in the same room as him, but you do anyway because the feeling of guilt and pity (and your looming mother) overpowers your discomfort.
But you know what?
Even as my mother is yelling at me to move my lazy behind into gear as I speedily type this out I am thankful for every single thing, from the smallest to the glaringly obvious: to the mediocre Pakistani food, to my annoying brother who unabashedly pokes fun at me at every opportunity, to my cats cuddling with me on the bed, I’m surrounded by genuine warmth – and I’m not just talking about the blankets.
I see stuff in a new light. Before, I didn’t know just how much I couldn’t wait to get out of this house. But now that I’ve been away…
I’m thankful for everything I’ve taken for granted.
By Hira Shahbaz
It consumes you
Engulfs your mind
Your mind becomes captive
Prisoner to the demon clenching to your thoughts
And you know that they know
And you know that they can tell
But shh, don’t talk about it.
You tell them, you try to explain
And soon, they’re picking at your pieces,
cast aside as damaged goods on a clearance rack
This button, that lever,
they say it’s so simple.
Smile, they say
And you try to tell them,
that your face might be stuck in a perpetual state of numb
Smile, is a foreign word,
whose syllables you’ve forgotten how to pronounce.
Get up and live, they say
As if you haven’t yet explained that….you can’t.
That you can’t.
That breaths feel like boulders on your chest,
steps like mountains to climb.
So you say these things,
but you know that they know
And you know that they can tell
But shh, don’t talk about it.
After all, what would you think?
After all, what would you think?
Your uncle, and your aunt’s brother third cousin,
and the random aunty in the masjid.
Your forth cousin twice removed is surely important.
Their opinions clearly matter more than the importance of your ability to speak openly.
So day in, and day out
You wear your mask
You remind yourself, one step, another step, one step.
All the while feeling like they are dragging along.
Because you are flesh
Wound after wound
Plunged deep, far
You are wound
Numb to the pain of daily struggle
Because really, you know that they know
And you know that they can tell
But shh, you must never speak about it.
By Inayah Lakhani
Though omnipresent force, some call it weak.
Soft and hard, could it be both false and true?
Some say it’s no more than a rosy cheek:
Why, then, is a flower so hard to subdue?
Is it a power only in its action?
No, for it lives beyond physical border,
A long journey, sublating mere attraction,
A deep wound, needing absence of order.
From the tall cradle to the deep earthy bed,
Its presence will continue to live on:
Among the clash of steel it remains undead,
In a world of fire, it has always shone.
Yes, its name is that which makes one insane:
My fond heart, is its pleasure worth its pain?
By Hasan Habib
By Michael Chuang
Then they found one of Our servants whom We blessed with mercy from Us and whom We gave knowledge, a knowledge from Our own. (65) Musa said to him, “May I have your company so that you teach me some of the rightful knowledge you have been given.” (66) He said, “You can never bear with me patiently. (67) And how would you keep patient over something your comprehension cannot grasp?” (68) He (Musa) said, “You will find me patient, if Allah wills, and I shall not disobey any order from you.” (69) He said, “Well, if you follow me, do not ask me about anything unless I myself start telling you about it.” (70) So, they both moved ahead, until when they boarded a boat, he sliced it (by removing one of its planks). He (Musa) said, “Did you slice it to drown its people? In fact, you have done a terrible act.” (71) He said, “Did I not say that you can never bear with me patiently?” (72) He (Musa) said, “Do not hold me punishable for what I forgot, and do not make my course too difficult for me.” (73) So, they moved ahead until when they met a boy, he killed him (the boy). He (Musa) said, “Did you kill an innocent soul while he did not kill anyone? You have committed a heinous act indeed.” (74) He said, “Did I not tell you that you can never bear with me patiently?” (75) He (Musa) said, “If I ask you about something after this, do not allow me your company. You have now reached a point where you have a valid excuse (to part with me) from my own side. “ (76) Then, they moved ahead until they came to the people of a town; they asked its people for food, and they refused to host them. Then, they found there a wall tending to fall down. So he (Khidr) set it right. He (Musa) said, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.” (77) He said, “Here is the point of parting ways between me and you. I shall now explain to you the reality of things about which you could not remain patient. (78) As for the boat, it belonged to some poor people who worked at sea. So I wanted to make it defective, as there was a king across them who used to usurp every boat by force. (79) As for the boy, his parents were believers. We apprehended that he would impose rebellion and infidelity upon them. (80) We, therefore, wished that their Lord would replace him with someone better than him in piety, and more akin to affection. (81) As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was a treasure beneath it belonging to them, and their father was a pious man. So your Lord willed that they should reach their maturity and dig out their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. I did not do it on my own accord. This is the reality of things about which you could not remain patient.” (82). [18: 65-82]
What is knowledge? Take one philosophy course (almost any course) and you will be presented with about 1000+ theories on Epistemology– what knowledge is, how we acquire it, why we acquire it, what we do with it, and what it all means in the grand scheme of things. When I’m in class it seems that there are a plethora of theories, and once we’ve touched based on even one of them, we jump to the next– occasionally come back to some previous ones–accept them or challenge them, and the cycle continues. Let’s not forget the theories that a philosopher might create just to refute a theory he/she doesn’t like. But I love it. I love my philosophy classes and I love that I can learn those 1000+ theories and the fact will always remain- Allah is the first and the last.
“He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the Knower of hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things.” [57:3]
Of course as Muslims we have to understand that it is by Allah’s mercy that He has granted us the Qur’an as guidance and so that we can understand the reality of this world. It is also by His mercy that such profound information is clarified in one book. So how can we use the Qur’an to understand Epistemology? To begin, Allah reminds us that only He is the all-aware and all-knowing. Allah describes Himself with many names that are only reserved for Him, especially in regards to knowledge. Even in the case of Khidr (AS), he himself states that the knowledge and wisdom bestowed upon him was all from Allah. It is very clear that as the creation we are limited and He is limitless.
In philosophy, when we talk about epistemology, it often follows that we also talk about intuitions and beliefs. Why do we hold certain intuitions and are they a reliable source of information? If we have the correct information but come to an incorrect conclusion in virtue of that information, does it still count as having a true belief? Philosophers have tried to tackle these questions by considering certain scenarios, such as the Gettier cases and thought experiments. Gettier cases are hypothetical scenarios that were made to appeal to our understanding of knowledge and true beliefs. A super simplified version of a Gettier Case can be understood in the case that Smith knows that Jones always drives a Ford so Smith believes that Jones owns a Ford. However Jones is currently renting a Ford (unbeknown to Smith) – so would that count as Smith having the justified belief that Jones owns a Ford? Now to put a twist on things, thought experiments also constitute of hypothetical situations that examine how knowledge plays a role in moral judgment which then have consequences that are manifested in action. For example, there is a situation where one must to choose between letting a trolley (train) kill X number of people on a track or purposely killing 1 person to spare the others. There are more versions of this case that consider how varying indirect/direct responsibility for the killing would have an effect on one’s decision. For both Gettier Cases and Thought Experiments, many philosophers have tried to reconcile different theories of beliefs and intuitions to come to some sort of conclusion about knowledge.
Without going into further discussion about such cases, we can rewind and come back to the story of Musa and Khidr (AS)- to appeal to intuitions and beliefs. Even though Musa (AS) was a prophet, in this event we see how he was bound by his own intuitions, which prevented him from seeing the wisdom behind the actions of Khidr (AS). Again, Musa AS is a prophet and because of that him and his knowledge are still held to a high regard, however even as a noble prophet, Allah is showing us something extremely profound in regards to epistemology. It is He who holds all the knowledge of the seen and unseen and it is He who grants guidance and wisdom to whom He wills. In this case He granted Khidr knowledge and wisdom from Himself, which is the only way that Khidr was able to take the action that he did. This story reflects greatly on the trials that we will face in our life. We as the creation have limited capacities by nature. Nobody will deny this; nobody will deny that humans although the intelligent species- have limited and many times imperfect perception. We are able to make certain moral judgments and filter our own actions accordingly but every so often we will find that what we intuit to be “bad” may actually be beneficial and what we intuit to be “good” may actually be detrimental.
Again, this is largely my own reconciliation of what I learn everyday with what Allah tells us in the Qur’an. Of course the Qur’an will always take precedence over anything I learn and if there is any lesson that I would like to share from this reflection, it is that no matter how much knowledge we think we have or how intelligent we think we are, Allah is the most knowledgeable, the most wise, and only He is perfect. Any mistakes that we make are a product of our own imperfections and all success is only from Allah. We must ask Him for guidance especially in times of hardships when our intuitions are playing against us.
P.S. I am also not a Philosopher, but whatever. Who in philosophy even is?
By Abyaz Uppal
Every November, a yearly reminder comes through the form of Thanksgiving. People sit around tables saying their thanks for everything and anything. As usual, someone must come in and interrupt to say that they should be thankful not just this one day but everyday of the year. Mostly, we roll our eyes and take their remark with the same passivity as if one’s mom told him or her to clean his or her room. In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (SWT) says, “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me” (2:152). But in those moments we forget that it is one of our duties and purposes to be thankful. We should always remind ourselves that Allah (SWT) blessed us with all the barakah in our lives. Even through hardships we are able to enjoy having things that others can not even dream of knowing. For every small thing , we need to be grateful that Allah (SWT) bestowed it upon us. It is crucial for us to work on giving thanks with sincerity and piety. So inshallah I ask you to take out a mental pencil and paper while learning from this Sparknotes on giving thanks.
Let’s start off by looking at the Arabic word for thanks or gratitude. The origin of root words in Arabic is always a fascinating subject. The root shukr (شكر) can be understood by looking at a camel. Camels typically populate desert areas which can be barren of food and drink. Even so, if one tests the milk produced by camels, it is of high nutritional value. The milk is rich in proteins and vitamins and can sustain a person throughout the day. (Did you know you can survive a month just drinking camel’s milk?) Camels can go for long times without eating or drinking in desolate areas, yet can produce such rich and nutritious milk. A camel full of milk is known as shakira. By appreciating the barakah of the camel’s milk, one can understand how shukr comes about. The food a camel finds to eat may seem scarce to our well-fed eyes, but it is a feast nonetheless. Acknowledging everything given to it, this animal is able to produce something of high value and share it with others. With this, one can understand the origin of the word shukr.
Shukr is comprised of two manifestations: being grateful (internal) and showing gratitude (external). Internal shukr is the most vital component and resides above external shukr. They are truly appreciating what has been provided and using what is given in a manner that extends the prosperity towards others. Internal shukr should be an establishment of the heart, full and wholehearted in praise and gratitude. If a person does not establish this internal shukr, acts of external shukr are somewhat fruitless and hollow. Therefore we should work on the internal as much as we can.
The external component to shukr is further divided into two components, that of the tongue and limbs. Through the tongue, we pronounce and express our thankfulness verbally. Our limbs should be used to act in benevolence, and spreading our gratitude to others. With a brand-new understanding of internal shukr, we should begin to look for ways to to strengthen our gratitude game.
As always, Allah (SWT) puts many examples on this earth to explain how to practice what is preached. The most perfect example of internal and external shukr is the Prophet (ﷺ). He is the one who is guaranteed paradise over any other individual we have ever heard of. Therefore one may wonder, if he is set for the afterlife, then why did he not sit back and relax? He is the Messenger of Islam, applying the Quran and ways of Allah (SWT) through his daily practices. Yet in Sahih Bukhari it is narrated, “The Prophet (ﷺ) used to stand (in the prayer) or pray till both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) and he said, ‘should I not be a thankful slave.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari 1130)
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مِسْعَرٌ، عَنْ زِيَادٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ الْمُغِيرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ يَقُولُ إِنْ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيَقُومُ لِيُصَلِّيَ حَتَّى تَرِمُ قَدَمَاهُ أَوْ سَاقَاهُ، فَيُقَالُ لَهُ فَيَقُولُ “ أَفَلاَ أَكُونُ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا ”.
Rasulallah (ﷺ) regularly dedicated large potential large portions at his time to private worship and giving thanks. Yet, he also undertook the monumental talk at demonstrating his thanks through public worship. He maintained a leadership role and presented his companions with an ideal template for living in a constant state of shukr. Every action of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) was an act of sincere gratitude: he only spoke kind words and acted considerately, always keeping Allah’s (SWT) name on his tongue. He strove to put forth the right example, spending long nights in emotional prayers, and worrying himself sick over the state of his ummah, despite Allah’s (SWT) guarantee that he would go to Jannah, his sins and mistakes would be forgiven, and his ummah would be successful. Rasulullah (ﷺ) did all he could for his ummah out of the sheer appreciation of what Allah (SWT) had given to him. He was extremely grateful, despite the fact that he had very few worldly possessions and often did not have enough food to eat. His spirituality and levels of gratitude for even the smallest blessings gave him a light and spiritual soul which makes him a pristine example for us to follow.
Our expedition of fully being thankful begins with the 5 pillars of Islam. We stop to remember and thank Allah (SWT) by declaring our belief in the oneness of Allah and his messenger, praying five times a day, fasting Ramadan, giving zakat, and inshallah going for Hajj. Allah makes everything easier on us because as a result of having these pillars, without conscious awareness, we are practicing shukr.
While we strive to perfect our practice of this religion, we may stumble and fall along the way. This is the best opportunity for us to proceed in expressing our gratitude. Sincere tawbah (repentance) brings with it a state of thankfulness that we should all pay attention to. When doing tawbah, we ask Allah to forgive our sins and help us towards the right path. Allah (SWT) has given you the opportunity to understand what is sinful for you. And there is a conscious effort to stay away from that sin. First you are accepting what Allah has decreed as haram for you and then, through extension, accepting what is halal. Appreciation and gratitude for what is halal for us shows Allah (SWT) that we are thankful towards Allah for providing for us. We also are appreciative of the ability to do more good in order to correct any sin we have committed. So try to incorporate more tawbah with gratitude in it throughout your daily routine.
A simple and final way to integrate thankfulness is by smiling. It was narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When you smile to your brother’s face, it is charity” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1956). This pertains to the external manifestation of shukr. When you smile, you are confirming that even if you are weighed down by the trials and tribulations of the day, you are able to keep a positive attitude. This indicates that you are grateful for what you have. Having a smile on your face affects others around you to being slightly more elevated in spirits. This charity towards others reflects the levels of shukr that are established within an individual. This small act is the one I encourage us all to try and practice. It requires less effort than frowning, so try to get your face in the constant state of smiling so it does not become a task, but rather a habit.
It is important for us to remember Allah (SWT) through our daily struggles, He is the Giver of All and the Most Merciful. I hope this brief look into this life season of giving thanks is enlightening and captivating. I apologize for any mistakes or incorrect information. May Allah (SWT) make the path towards Jannah easy for all of us. Ameen ya rab.
Be yourself and never forget that. There will be people out there that will try to shoot you down. There will be people that are jealous of you, despise you, or even fear you. Fear you in that they think you could be a problem so they will try to take you down. Don’t let these people take you down. The same goes to the fakes and the people who aren’t interested in getting to know you because of your personality and who you are. Don’t let these people take you down either. If it is anything it is these people that can help you. Help you determine who is your friend and who isn’t. Determine if I should really pursue that friendship or not. Don’t let any of these people change who you are as an individual. These douchebags, sassy, jealous people will be there to try to shoot you down. But you shouldn’t let these people change who you are as a person and your integrity. Another type are the ones who try to force their own beliefs down your throat, almost suffocating you. You have the right to agree but you also have the right to disagree on things, including this blog. NO ONE should feel alienated because one has a belief that another does not have. Why you ask?
Because at the end of the day these people are meaningless. They shouldn’t matter to you. People know who you really are. To those people stick with them. Stick to the people that truly care about you, want to help you, respect you, treat you like a human, the people that are there for you when it matters, the people who want you to be happy. Be with these people and believe me you will know who they are by being yourself. Don’t waste your time with the people who shoot you down. By wasting time I mean putting them into your head. Speaking from experience, putting them and what they did to you in your head does waste your time. Because all you think about is them. It can even clouds your thoughts while you study. They are almost indirectly affecting how you function with daily life and with who you are. They take you away from your roots as an individual. They take you away from your core principles essentially robbing them from you. I do understand that many of us do care about their reputations and you want to make an impression. This can be applied to finding a job or even trying to impress a group of people. However, don’t let your urge to change your reputation change your core beliefs (this includes your religious beliefs) and who you are.
I keep mentioning don’t change who you are. Don’t change your principles I do keep mentioning this. Why is that? Because being yourself is what brings the best out of you. Don’t we all want to be comfortable? We all have ambitious goals and we all want them achieved whether it be via school or enhancing your reputation. Before you can achieve these goals, before you can be comfortable with your surrounding, you need to be comfortable with YOURSELF. This means being who you are, sticking to what you believe in, doing what you want to do without the social, educational or familial pressures that may come your way. Again speaking from experience, being comfortable with one’s self with lead you to the greater path. Path meaning a good social life, better grades, and probably the most important thing of them all, being happy and positive. Even the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) even preached that one must be positive. Why would he himself preach this? Because being positive leads to greater things. And being positive can mean being comfortable with one’s self. Being comfortable builds confidence in not just yourself, but in other goals you would like to achieve. Confidence, especially self-confidence is essential to life and functioning as an individual. You need to be confident in what you do. You need to be sure that you can do this and you can do it well. And by confidence, this means if you yourself, not what others tell you, put on you, pressure you. No, YOU. You are confident in yourself. You are honest with yourself. You are doing it because of others or wanting to impress others. You are doing it FOR YOU. Being yourself in itself can alleviate so much in your life. It can truly solve the many problems people have today. But even I know, it is easier said than done and it is not exactly easy to “be yourself”. But this is a type of struggle. To be ourselves this is a type of struggle. Similar to how we try to attain knowledge whether it be religion, education, etc. It is a struggle that we all must plow through. This fight, this struggle to deviate from one’s self and do things that are uncharacteristic of ourselves. Because doing that may lead to uncomfort in you.
Back in middle school, I will never forget there was one assembly that we all had to attend. And the topic was simple, “You are beautiful”. There was one thing he told us to do. It was to tell the person to your left and to your right that you were beautiful. This simple exercise caught me off guard. Because it is true. You are beautiful. NO ONE should tell you otherwise, especially to the people that do not know and the people mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog. It is not in there place to shoot you down, throw you away, take your beauty away. They should never destroy your beauty and who you are. If it is anything come back stronger. Come back better. Come as someone you are comfortable with. Stay true to yourself. Be honest with yourself. Because at the end of the day, everyone is trying to blend in and there is a place for everyone. Don’t let anyone think there is no place for you. In honesty, your beauty is needed. Hell, even Eminem wrote a song about this very topic called “Beautiful”. There is no need to try to impress others. When you do this, you move away from.your beauty, you move away from yourself.
As Eminem said, “And to the rest of the world, God gave you the shoes. That fit you, so put em on and wear ’em. And be yourself man, be proud of who you are. Even if it sounds corny, Don’t ever let nobody tell you, you ain’t beautiful”. And be yourself.
By Salah Shaikh
I sometimes feel like I think way too much. I need to stop.
Now some people might say: What a silly conclusion! Why Hira, you spend way too much time thinking about the most useless things in the world! And that, my friends, is something that hits way too close to home.
But really, you might not want to jump into my head to see what bizarre thoughts I come up with. Some people like to think about the mundane things in life: what do I need to get for today’s groceries, where are my keys, did I do my homework? And that’s fine. Some people like to think about the deepest thoughts in the dead of night: What is life? Why do humans have opposable thumbs? Are aliens real? How come everyone except for me has a job? That’s also fine.
Now me: I like to think about the many ways you can die. Specifically at Rutgers. And then post them online for Rutgers students to see.
This is slightly less fine.
These are the fruits of my wacky (read: psycho) contemplations that will leave you forever hanging in a perpetual limbo of anxiety and panic. Because nowhere is safe, I present to you, Dumb Ways to Die: the Rutgers Edition.
1. Eating at Brower. I know, it’s an overused joke that only freshmen make nowadays in order to look funny in front of everyone, but I’m gonna expand on that and tell you that all of the Rutgers dining halls give the same result, whether it’s Livingston or Brower. It’s just a matter of time before your body begins to reject such disgrace and calling it “food.” For those of you who live on-campus, I understand that this cannot be avoided.
It was nice knowing you.
2. A giant, conflagration on the bus. All those disconcerting sounds coming from the engine feel like the bus is going to come crumbling down into a big, fiery mess. I’m just waiting for the time that all those students that pile into an already cramped bus are gonna make it break down at some point, which will cause the students to get so angry that they’re late for class for the umpteenth time this semester and generate one huge, collective brain meltdown–
You can tell I’ve had this experience.
3. Alhamdulillah, hallelujah, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You find one of them fancy single-person unisex bathrooms and a feeling of immense worriment lifts from your shoulders as you tentatively open the door. This is the first time you get to do Wudu in peace ever since that embarrassing little situation not too long ago when you got caught by some poor bewildered individual with your foot in the sink, thinking you could put your sneaky-ninja abilities to use and failing miserably. You thought you would’ve died of embarrassment.
Well, thankfully you didn’t… until you slip on that puddle someone else made before you had come in, who had the same idea in the same bathroom while they were doing Wudu. Wudu-ception.
4. It’s finals week, so you have all five of your notebooks open in front of you from that one class that’s practically only consists of huge graphs and diagrams (curse you, math). You pick up this paper, then that paper then back to the first paper, your eyes go cross-eyed, and the next thing you know you have paper cuts all over your body and are now bleeding out onto the floor. Studying = death. So don’t study.
Or switch to a laptop.
5. We’re all college students: up to date with the latest technology, social media, the works. Therefore, we are practically fused to the Internet and, in turn, our devices that provide that link to us. Our devices, like our laptops, phones and tablets that earn the ire and irk of mothers and fathers aplenty, are necessary in our day to day lives, whether it’s for school or recreation or anything in between.
You know, I’m not going to be that surprised when my eyes start to dry and shrivel up after extensive and consistent use of my laptop screen that’s been radiating fluorescent light at me for a majority of my day, every day. If my eyeballs pop out, that’s simply going to be a natural effect of my unhealthy screen-viewing habits.
My mom thinks that’s how I’ll go.
Okay, so these scenes are getting a little bit ridiculous. But the main thing that I want to be delivered here, through horribly-executed deadpan humor and silly sketches done at two AM in the morning (hey, they were funny at the time), is that we have no idea when we will leave this world to be reunited with Allah.
The prospect that death is just around the corner may come as an unwanted scare to us, but it can also fill us with a sense of determination, if we choose to. Just changing our mindset, our outlook on certain things can give us that boost of inspiration, that energy to get those minds in overdrive. Because if we put things off to tomorrow, if we let laziness take over, if we decide to pass up on that opportunity…
Who knows? Maybe one of these things may get you in the end.
Picture: a metaphorical social media flood. A tornado of posts- nay, an earthquake. Your newsfeed trembles at high magnitude in posts, this sheikh, that fatwa.
The morning of Halloween, I prepared myself for the flood of posts that I have come to expect annually on this day. Typically, they’re very similar in nature: a detailed outline of the Pagan roots of Halloween, the nature of the celebration, the message we are sending the youth by allowing them to engage in this activity. Now, my opinions on this matter aside, I have found myself slightly excited for the sense of familiarity in the bickering, the online arguments. Someone throws a synonym or two around of “wrong”, something that is at least five syllables, of course, to sound as article and intellectual as possible.
This year, to somewhat of my own personal dismay, I found hardly any of these posts. And not just today, but the past few years have created a pattern on my timeline during these times, showing a decrease in posts that tell Muslims to dissociate themselves from ‘American’ traditions. This shift is due in part to the change in generations, that many of the young adults that are beginning to lead the Muslim youth today are first-generation Americans, molded by nights of trick-or-treating (or watching your friends from the window, with the lights all turned off in your house. Take your pick). We are the generation that grew up listening to our class mates sing Christmas carols in December, prepare their stockings. We are the generation that grew up with Fresh Prince re-runs and Drake lyrics, seemingly more connected to American culture than the native culture of our parents.
This seems to largely be the reason for the general shift and liberalization of the Muslim community. Growing up with a heightened sense of Islamaphobia and a “radical” movement, American Muslims have gone to lengths to disassociate themselves with anything that seemed too extreme. Generally, American Muslims have become less conservative, opting to move closer to the left, far from accusations of ‘extremism’. Radical movements have caused American Muslims to liberalize their views.
Growing up, I would never have imagined seeing as many Muslims as non-Muslims out trick or treating, Muslims with tattoos, Muslims speaking out to push support towards LGBTQA communities, the building of gay mosques. Whether or not you agree with any of these actions, or are completely opposed to them, having such large populations of Muslim Americans shift so radically to the left from where we were in pre-9/11 Islamaphobic era, indisputably shows that the Muslim community as a whole is becoming much more liberal.
The general views and attitude of the Muslim community in the past few years has seen a radical shift towards liberalization, and if trends continue in this direction, there’s no telling how far left the Muslim community will shift in the coming years.
By Inayah Lakhani
Sweet are you,
in humbling display.
I feel you trailing me,
and shy away.
Why do you grasp me?
I don’t feel you, yet
you ensnare me.
Why do you run,
Your beauty, always shadowed,
does not age.
Do not take me,
leave me be,
leave me be.
I carry the bittersweet memories of living in different cities, of my childhood innocence that left me long ago.
I carry lipstick in my purse because I’ve been taught that it’s classy, at least that’s what they told me so.
I carry poems because they entertain me much more than screens that broadcast humanity’s lows.
I carry the whispers I caught from others that criticize me to the very last.
I carry a reserved soul because I’ve seen too much evil to let go.
I carry the burden of someone else’s happiness that pressures me to be perfect, a motivation unsurpassed.
I’ll carry you if you carry me, at least that’s what I’ve been told.
I carry a pen that strikes paper like bullets shooting at targets during war.
I carry the languages of French, Spanish, Algerian, and English because culture is all I have ever known.
I carry my wooden spoon that my father gave me when I was eight, because cooking is a form of love from the soul.
I carry the regrets of all the insults I have ever said.
I carry a cup filled with black coffee, no milk or sugar, just the way I like it; bitter.
I’ll carry you if you carry me, at least that’s what you told me so.
I carry the wisdom of generations that have tumbled down through proverbs from ancient folks.
I carry the oppression of the subjugation of myself to adhere to cultural restrictions and contradictions that is society’s big hoax.
I carry that firm personality that resembles the first teacher that ever taught me how to read.
I carry the thoughts of wondering what did I do to deserve God’s mercy.
I carry a transcript with ‘good’ grades that seek to pursue your pleasure and to repay you, mother, for the sacrifices; don’t worry I remember.
I’ll carry you if you carry me, at least that’s what I’ve been told.
I carry the shoes that guided my feet through the halls of darkness to light as a lost soul.
I carry the quarrels we had like lovers in a parking lot.
I carry the books of Hosseini, Qabbani, and all the authors I have ever known.
But, the Quran that trembles in my right hand still strikes me as if I’ve never read it before.
I carry the picture of a graceful old woman draped in white in an olive garden that I met long ago.
May Allah swt have mercy on her soul.
I’ll carry you if you carry me, at least that’s what I’m telling you so.
I’ll carry your baggage and all our dirty laundry because
mon coeur comprend et vous aime.
There are times when even I can not sleep at night. Want to know the reason why? Because I am always thinking about the stresses in my life and they will not go away. As much as I try to push it to the side they simply will not go away. I sometimes feel bottled up in a corner looking small in a very big world. To the point where there is so much negative energy in me that it wants to just burst out in flames and cause havoc wherever. It is unstoppable. It is a force that simply can not be tamed. It is the inner demons inside of me and they want to come out. And I know very well I am not alone with this. I am angry, I am fire, I am alone in this moment and there are times where I need that person you can talk to and this is the point of my discussion.
People underestimate how much a simple “hello” or “salaam” can mean to an individual. In a time where many of us are dealing with the stresses of the world, all you people want is one good happy moment. Some of us are very lucky to have these great moments, while others are not. One simple hello, one simple conversation, and even one simple hug can exorbitantly change the tone of one individual. A simple hello is more than just a hello. It was someone acknowledging you at a time when you feel alone. Someone actually cared enough to say hello to you. We take these moments for granted. We take the conversations we have with individuals for granted. Some people are so caught up with work that they do not even have time to talk and they miss out on so much. The inner demons inside in them are just fiery with anger and they just want to explode. Many people just want someone to be on their side when the going gets tough and when someone is in a state of helplessness.
The concept of brother/sisterhood is a very important concept to take into consideration. It creates camaraderie. We too take these for granted because only some of us have this, this camaraderie. This feeling not only means you are with someone, but you are comfortable with yourself. You are comfortable with the people you are with. You feel comfortable with doing some things you might have never done. You feel comfortable with who you are. You have a positive energy in you and this energy helps you succeed in life. Many people know this and they want this and they will do whatever they can to obtain this, but sometimes they fail. We take for granted the amount of comfort we have in our lives. I usually can not help but think about the others that do not have this. This comfort that people sorely desire. These are amounts that people have the chance to have almost everyday, but there are quite a few who have these rare moments and cherish them as good memories. Many due to many factors might not even be in a state of comfort where they might need that person on their side to talk with. Some can not even find this person.
What I am trying to get at is do not underestimate what a simple smile, hello, conversation, hug can do to an individual. In a time where many of us are dealing with classes, personal life, etc. There are people out there would kill for a smile. Just to brighten up their day to their rather pretty stressful lives. Do not take it for granted. There are people out there that would love to have those moments. That would love to have that person/people beside them. The person/people that they can feel comfortable with. In a world where it is very big and they feel small and alone, sometimes they just need someone to lean on.
In spirit of the past Charity Art Gala hosted by MSA’s Submissions and Hope team, I wanted to highlight a type of art we could not bring to the gala. And when I mean could not, by any laws placed on us, physically impossible. So I dedicated my time to bring forth this underrepresented art, Islamic architecture. Unfortunately I am not majoring in architecture but I believe these masjids do an amazing job of attesting for themselves. Since the inception of Islam, Islamic architecture has been dosing people with domes, minarets, intricate motifs, tiles and calligraphy. Through this short list I would like to remind myself and others of the beauty of Islam and its influence on different cultures. The splendor of the following pictures does not fully capture the magnificence of each masjid. One of the hardest tasks of appreciating eclectic masajid from around the world was creating a concise list to share. Next time you go on vacation, make sure to put these destinations on your list.
As always the most wonderful place, and most near and dear to the Ummah’s heart is Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. If any of you have ever visited (may Allah make it possible for all of us to visit inshallah), you will understand how this masjid takes the top prize.
2. Masjid Al-Nabawi
A 4 hour drive from Mecca to this resting place of Prophet (SAW). Every part of this masjid vibrates radiance. The calligraphy within the walls delicately intertwining in the ceilings. The green dome standing tall and proud within the most beloved part of the masjid. Outside magnificent umbrellas open to shade the devout Muslims from Saudi Arabia’s basking sun. It is one of the most serene and pristine places in the world.
(Photo by Danish Razvi)
3. Great Masjid of Xi’an
Easily one of the oldest masjids in China, this architectural piece integrates Islam into the vast country. Gardens and courtyards surround this place of worship. A Chinese pavilion stands proud in tall, welcoming people to the prayer. Summer of 2016 is not coming fast enough.
(Photo by Isaac Torrontera)
4. Taj Mahal Masjid
This masjid gives you another great reason to visit Taj Mahal. Created as a compliment to the massive edifice, this masjid serves to bring elegance to observing prayer.
(Photo by Nik Daum)
5. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Masjid
Sitting on its own lagoon, this masjid in Brunei does not allow one enough breath to even say breathtaking. If you want a stunning view of Bandar Seri Begawan, take the elevator in the minaret to the top. To top off this masjid is a dome of pure gold.
(Photo by Yasir HMAD)
6. Masjid Al-Aqsa
Found in the historic world of Jerusalem, Masjid Al-Aqsa is an integral part of Islamic history. There is no better way to appreciate the vast history of this holy site then going.
(Source: Lost Islamic History)
7. Al-Saleh Masjid
Please procrastinate and enjoy this 3D tour of this modern masjid.
(Photo by Fatima Almutawakel)
8. Sultanahmet Masjid (The Blue Masjid)
Turkish architecture can parallel to no other art. Sultan Ahmed Masjid sits within the cross-continental city of Istanbul. Blue mosaic tiles give it the nickname of the Blue Masjid.
(Source: Best Photos Ever)
9. Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid
Tall in the city of Colombo is this red and white patterned masjid. Integrated within the lively streets, Jami Ul-Afar blends Moorish and Russian architecture.
(Photo by Unknown)
10. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid
Claiming its spot as the largest masjid in the Phillipines, this masjid attracts a large amount of tourists from all over the world. This masjid was funded by Hassanal Bolkiah the Sultan of Brunei, mimicking some of the style of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Masjid.
(Photo by Mohamad Calolong)
11. Shah Cheragh Masjid
In order to visit, one must be warned by the amount of luster contained within this architectural wonder. Nicknamed the Mirrored Masjid, almost every inch of this masjid is covered with reflective surfaces, dazzling any person to come and worship.
(Photo by Unknown)
12. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Masjid
This masjid speaks for itself.
(Photos by Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center)
13. Masjid Kristal
Another contender for the most astonishing masjid is this one made from steel, crystal, and glass. It sits on the island Wan Man of Malaysia, a part of the vast Islamic Heritage Park.
(Photo by Wan Taquddin)
14. Badshahi Masjid
The second largest masjid in Pakistan, this masjid was once the biggest in the world. Red stone adorns the outside with sophisticated carvings surrounding the building. A courtyard helps to hold overflow of tourists and locals during prayer times.
(Photo by Muhammad Ashar)
15. Masjid Raya
Octagonal in shape, this masjid is influenced by Moroccan, European, Malaysian, and Middle Eastern architecture.
(Photo by Unknown)
I apologize if I did not bring justice to any of your favorite masajid. Inshallah after looking through endless photos I am making sincere du’aa that we can all see and pray in these masajid within our lifetime.
Tonight I went out to see a blood moon.
On the night of Sunday September 28th, 2015, there would be a supermoon lunar eclipse that would be visible for exactly an hour and twelve minutes. The resulting visual to be seen would be a moon thirty percent larger than normal, bathed in a blood red color. Hence the name ‘blood moon.’
That was curious in it of itself, since those two combinations of phenomena would not occur for quite a while, namely until 2033, and the next total lunar eclipse wouldn’t happen until 2018. But even rarer was the fact that I stepped out of my cozy apartment in Henderson to view this occurrence.
In hindsight I should’ve known better, since I live in an environment extremely unsuitable for gazing at the cosmos but it was a spur-of-the-moment kind of decision. After sitting for five straight hours in my chair on my laptop – don’t look at me like that, we all have those moments – doing absolutely nothing of importance, I figured I’d haul myself outside and do something useful.
I walked down to the field outside Loree Hall, dressed in a lazy hoodie and sweatpants. Yellow and white streetlights glared on my glasses until I reached the dark spot right in the middle of that field. And there I looked.
I looked futilely for a moon that I could not see, no matter how hard I tried. Clouds hid that beautiful moon away from me, smog thick in the air. ‘Round and ‘round I turned, from every vantage point I tried, but those lights foiled my attempts, their pollution seeping so far into my safe dark spot. Perhaps even with the most advanced technology there was no way to experience that moon from there. After a few minutes, I gave up.
But I learned something that night. That moon was Allah: an entity who is All-Present, even when you cannot see Him with your own eyes. The walk I walked is the journey you take to become closer to Him. The clouds covering your sight are but trials to overcome so that the smog from your eyes can be lifted to see the Most Merciful.
And in the end of it all, you will see that He was there all along.
Leading you unconsciously.
Whether you could see Him or not.
Sometimes life’s obstacles overwhelm you. You need to know when to take a break and go somewhere secluded to unwind. To go to a clearer place to see that incredible moon, to a place isolated from anyone else so that you can see that moon with nothing to obstruct our view. Just you and the moon.
Just you and Allah.
A mother’s love is strong
Yet powerless at best
Quenches the thirst for so long
But has no water for the rest
A dreadful inquisition
Who lives and who dies
A mother’s impossible decision
Of tending to which child’s cries
The prayer is always the same
Only a different body to discern
“From God they came,
And to God they will return”
Fluorescent bombs light the night sky
As a mother prepares her final goodbye
–By Ziyad R
I do not blossom,
I am frigid, cold,
awaiting the sun’s rays;
I hear silence setting
on a barren hillside, but
joyous noise at the core.
I sit here, alone.
I sit here, the only one
true to my name.
I sit here, watching
the mimics as they leave.
They get plucked,
only to die soon.
Will I be plucked?
I am latent,
I am forever.
I am unjust, yet
sometimes I bring joy.
I am overlooked
in false pretense.
I am powerful,
I am quick, I am
Not what I am.
I am Love.
Drained from an extensive day of babysitting, I was sitting and watching the
Avengers with my 5-year-old nephew. I had actually never seen the movie before
and certainly had no interest to. The only thing that succeeded to reserve my
attention was my nephew’s occasional shrieking and excitement at the appearance
of Captain America. I honestly never believed he was such a great superhero. I mean
what was even so special about him? He, just like any other superhero, was a reason
to give Marvel millions of dollars from the parents of these fascinated children.
So I asked my nephew a simple question…Sweetie, why do you like Captain America
so much? And he gave me an innocent response…“his shield, he’s so strong with his
shield and he can fight his enemy with it, and the best part he doesn’t even get
hurt!”…. and suddenly I made a revelation.
The shield! That’s what makes him so special! It is the sole reason Captain America
is so loved by the nation! With his indestructible shield he’s so amazingly powerful!
He can throw it at his enemies and defeat them in an instant, without any visible
damage to himself.
The analogy is in the shield. For Muslims, our iman, or faith, is inevitably our shield.
The alter ego of Captain America is Steven Rogers, a man who was rejected from the
army due to the single fact that he was too weak and frail to engage in combat with
the enemy. However, as soon as he took the risk to undergo a series of experiments,
he gained unimaginable strength and, to go along with it, an indestructible shield. He
became the Captain America that is known and loved today.
If Muslims take the initiative to step up and learn about their religion and
strengthen their relationship with Allah, they can become their own superhero. It
honestly does not matter how weak you think your iman is, how bad you believe
you are, or how much unforgivable sin you think you have engaged in. As soon as
we, as Muslims, take the leap of faith and seize the opportunity to change our bad
habits, we have put on our shield.
Asking forgiveness for sins we believe we have committed, taking initiatives to start
praying in a timely manner, and changing our mindset to be able to declare that
“Yes! I will change for Allah starting now!” we strengthen our iman and secure our
shield in place. Once we strengthen our faith, no enemy (i.e. Shaytaan) can bring us
What Muslims simply need to remember is that without our iman and without our
Islam we are nothing. We were privileged to be born Muslim and our religion makes
us who we are. So never give up on it because Islam is our shield that undeniably
makes us indestructible.
By Fatima Alam
War is like a beautiful woman luring in the youth,
Their boots thread the Earth and their hearts desire to reap its fruits.
And when the surge of courage diminishes and the bombs hail high,
Every young soul shall sigh.
War then becomes an old wrinkled, ugly, hag
That no one desires to be with or can hold onto its treacherous battle flag.
There are no more boots left that thread the Earth and no more hearts that desire.
And war has left mothers tears dry and their cries of “ya ibni” held in the heavens up high.
War has left the riches of cities buried under ashes,
And love lost in the midst of smoke from brutal, crimson clashes.
War has spilled blood on the dry Earth like numerous broken wine caskets.
Yet, we yearn war like war is everlasting.
War is a disease that the Prophet pbuh warned about.
So do not desire it, but if you must be brave and do not doubt.
For as the gates of hell break loose when war is here,
the gates of the seven heavens invite you in as your soul comes near.
First of all, Eid Mubarak to you all. This is the day of sacrifice where Ibrahim was ordered by Allah (swt) to sacrifice his own son, Ismail, but instead Ismail was replaced and this has led to many Qurbani’s today. It is a day to remember that moment and celebrate it peacefully amongst our peers. Unfortunately though there is a problem. And that is we Muslims are not living in full peace.
Islamophobia is more rampant than ever in the U.S. and around the world where Muslims are branded as terrorists and seen as hostile threats. A perfect example of this was the recent story of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14 year old boy who brought a clock he built to school to show to his teacher, only to get arrested by police for thinking the clock was a threat. A majority of people criticized the arrest– Mslims and non-Muslims alike such as Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton, etc. These people saw the incident for what it was: blatant Islamophobia. Because Ahmed is a Muslim and because he brought a device that seemed “like a bomb” was arrested for it. It was so criticized a trending hashtag #IStandwithAhmed was created and became extremely popular.
But even with the popularity for Ahmed, it still does not solve the problem of Islamophobia. This is something Muslims must face everyday. Many Muslims live in fear that they could be the next Ahmed where they get arrested for “suspicious” activity because of their faith and/or what they wear such as a hijab, niqab, etc. It is something that Muslims struggle to overcome and persevere against. So here lies the question: how can one Muslim fight through Islamophobia, debunk it, and still try their best to live healthy lives when it is such a rampant problem today? The answer may lie in the origins of the holiday Eid-ul Adha. I’m talking about the story between Ibrahim and Ismail.
The story between Ibrahim and Ismail was more than just Ibrahim willing to sacrifice his own son. There is a lot more to it then simply that. Here’s what I mean:
The reason Ibrahim did what he did is because he believed in Allah (swt). He believed in the teachings of Allah (swt). He believed that Allah (swt) was the creator of the heavens, universe, planets, and life. He believed that Allah (swt) was his creator and that Allah (swt) gave him the ability to live. He believed in Allah (swt) to the extent where he would sacrifice his own son–a son he had been waiting to come for decades. He passed this test, and, thus, Allah (swt) spared Ismail. The reason Allah (swt) let Ismail live is because they both believed in him. Ibrahim with sacrificing and Ismail, too, for letting his father sacrifice him. It showed courage, bravery and fortitude that only a few others could possibly have. Imagine having the courage to sacrifice your own child because Allah (swt) told you to.
Another key concept that can be taken from this story is to see how precious life really is. Ibrahim believed in Allah (swt) because he was thankful for the life he had given to him, and to Ismail. Ibrahim realized that he was given a life that he was supposed to make the most out of. One of the many ways he did this is following Allah (swt)’s word. He made the most of his life by not just believing in God, but also taking care of his own family. Making sure they are safe and they get the necessary resources for survival. Ibrahim strived for knowledge and wanted to learn. These are all main aspects of the Qur’an and Allah (swt)’s word. An example of this knowledge was displayed when he built the Kaaba. Overall, the main point is that Ibrahim made the most out of his life and never let it go to waste.
Finally, another key concept that can be taken from this is that if you believe in God consistently, then, most likely, good things will happen to you. Ibrahim believed in God and because of this, God was so merciful to let Ibrahim keep his own son. And this is not just that episode. It was throughout Ibrahim’s life. Ibrahim was poor and he did at times struggle for survival. But, because he believed in Allah (swt), he was eventually granted many resources. Some scholars argue that these resources were how the city of Makkah was built. And it took him quite a while to have Ismail. No matter how many times he prayed and how many years passed, he had not once did Ibrahim complain because of his faith in Allah and his resilience to it. The overall main point here is that he believed in God and God returned him the favor by awarding him for believing in God and believing in the good and moral principles Allah (swt) brought forth to him.
With all of this being said, it is clear that there are a lot of lessons that can be learned simply from the origins of Eid ul-Adha: the courage, bravery, and fortitude that both Ibrahim and Ismail displayed, they way Ibrahim conducted himself to realize how precious life is, but, most of all, his consistent and continued faith in Allah (swt). What is not to say that we Muslims today can not emulate the teachings that this story has taught us? If Ibrahim had the courage to sacrifice his own son, what is not to say that we should have the courage to fight through Islamophobia and not let it phase us? If Ibrahim was able to still believe in Allah (swt) despite living a poor life, despite taking a while to have a son, and despite the fact that Allah (swt), the God he believed in, ordered him to kill his own son, would still do it because he believed, what is not to say that we as Muslims should not abridge what we believe in simply because of the actions of a few? Life is indeed precious and it is time we looked up instead of down. We only have so many years in us that we can not let it go to waste. Do not let Islamophobic acts such as the one involving Ahmed Mohamed abridge you from your own faith. Like the prophets themselves, we must stand up for what we believe in, be comfortable with ourselves and not let others break us down in times of struggle. Gain more knowledge than you did previously so you can build this courage to combat Islamophobia and take it head on. You can still become a better Muslim in times of struggle, just like when Ibrahim and Ismail did.
Today, yes celebrate Eid ul-Adha. It is a day to be celebrated and enjoyed with family absolutely. However, recognize that Islamophobia exists, but do not let it deter you from your faith and who you are. Just look up to the words of Allah (swt), Ibrahim, and Ismail for how you can fight through Islamophobia and combat it.
By Salah Shaikh
So it’s that time of year again. No, not Eid. No, not the other Eid. No, it’s not National Beard Day. What kind of calendar are you looking at?
Yes, my friends, it is time for the start-of-the-year MSA Kickoff event, and this year’s theme is Medieval Times, but you knew that already didn’t you, since this is going to be released after all is said and done.
But! I wanted to take a moment to give you a snapshot into my life as to how the MSA made its impact on me: from the beginning of my freshman year to my sophomore year which I am just starting. And let me give you a spoiler: it impacted my life a ton.
Let’s start by going all the way back to when I was a clueless little freshman, scrolling through Facebook trying to learn all I could about “the most highly-proclaimed MSA on the East Coast” (I may be exaggerating). I saw that their first event was on a Thursday – get used to that, that’s when they always have their events – and, despite me being the reserved kid who had been hunkering down in her dorm room ever since she moved in, I decided to go.
That day came and I entered the hall, a nervous wreck, because I knew absolutely no one – and I mean no one – while everyone else did. An already formidably-sized crowd was buzzing with chatter, people were catching up with friends whom they hadn’t seen during the summer… and then there was me standing off to the side like a loser. Still, I felt a connection that I hadn’t had in the two weeks I’d been at Rutgers, and I held that comfort close.
Eventually, everyone settled down and the official Kickoff for the 2014 school year started as we sat through many announcements, videos and speeches by the officers. As they talked, I slowly became aware of a smile on my face; it was as if I already knew how much of a family this MSA would become to me. Heck, I felt the most comfortable in that tiny, crammed-to-the-brim room with Muslims breathing down my neck. Something within me was recharging and, while I couldn’t put my finger on it, it was a good feeling.
The event wound down and some people went for snacks, some left and others went to the side to sign up for the numerous sub-clubs in MSA (like Submissions). Somewhere in the whirlwind of activity, I found two girls, freshman like me, and we stuck together like a delicious PB&J sandwich. I couldn’t even begin to describe the feeling of inclusion that swirled in that place when we three held hands to form a human chain going through the brother’s side, giggling all the way. It was simply amazing.
As soon as I stepped through the doors leading outside to leave, my mood sobered. It may not have been a crazy party, but I certainly didn’t want that night to end.
Fast forward to this year’s Kickoff, throw some sunglasses on me and call me a cool kid because I was living the halal life: great fun, awesome friends (I’m still friends with one of the aforementioned girls) and a seriously caring community that always has my back. And most of all, my faith had become the strongest it had been in all my years.
But above all else, I have to remember where I came from and how I started out. Because I’d definitely not have any of these things if I didn’t put myself out there and take risks. My decision started a chain reaction all because of that one event I pushed myself to go to and while this can be applied to anything…
This is my MSA story.
By Hira Shahbaz
We all know that an integral part of offering dawah is clarifying the misconceptions that many NonMuslims (and sometimes, even Muslims) have about Islam. However, while many of us are enthusiastic about offering dawah and battling through Islamophobia, not many of us are informed of the proofs from the Qur’an that back up the claims we know so well.
Today, the rise of Sheikh Google has made it all too easy for people, with both malignant and benevolent intentions, to arrive at completely misconstrued information about Islam, all backed up by direct quotations from the Qur’an. Like with any text, quotations can’t be lifted from the Qur’an out of context, but in addition to understanding the literary context of an ayah, it’s also important to understand the historical context of it. Knowing when and why an ayah was revealed is a crucial part of understanding its significance. As Muslims, it should be our responsibility to have this knowledge and understanding which is necessary to refute common misunderstandings.
Recently, someone asked me the question we’ve heard time and time again: What does the Qur’an say about violence in the name of Allah? Specifically, this person had been misinformed that Jihad is the practice of Extremists to eliminate “infidels,” who she had been told are Christians. Luckily for me, she had approached me over social media, so it wasn’t obvious right away that I didn’t actually have the exact answer to her question. Of course, I knew that Islam preaches peace and that verses from the Qur’an are misconstrued to show otherwise, but I didn’t actually know these ayahs by heart, and I essentially didn’t have anything except my own word to give to her, when she needed nothing short of Allah’s. So I spent the next couple of days doing research on the topic, and below you’ll find my response. It is my hope that this may prove beneficial to someone else, and that we may effectively become better da’ees.
The Qur’an doesn’t teach or advocate violence in the name of Allah. The Qur’an does talk about jihad, but jihad is the arabic word for struggle, specifically, any struggle that a believer undergoes for her/his faith. It can be something daily such as Muslim women wearing hijab or a Muslim working on making sure she/he prays five times a day, or a bigger struggle such as facing discrimination.
Unfortunately, there are a few ayahs from the Qur’an that are repeatedly misquoted by people who want to portray Islam as a violent religion. For example, a common misquotation is:
And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (9:5)
The preceding verses which provide the context here have been conveniently left out and are as follows:
[This is a declaration of] disassociation, from Allah and His Messenger, to those with whom you had made a treaty among the polytheists. So travel freely, [O disbelievers], throughout the land [during] four months but know that you cannot cause failure to Allah and that Allah will disgrace the disbelievers. And [it is] an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah is disassociated from the disbelievers, and [so is] His Messenger. So if you repent, that is best for you; but if you turn away – then know that you will not cause failure to Allah . And give tidings to those who disbelieve of a painful punishment. Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term [has ended]. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him]. And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know. How can there be for the polytheists a treaty in the sight of Allah and with His Messenger, except for those with whom you made a treaty at al-Masjid al-Haram? So as long as they are upright toward you, be upright toward them. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him] (9:1-7).
First of all, Islam was revealed among a population of polytheists and idol-worshippers, so there is no mention of Christians here. Secondly, Islam was not welcomed with open arms. Despite the fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions were peaceful in their spread of Islam, they were persecuted to such an extent that they were forced to leave their city of Makkah and travel to Medina, where they were finally welcomed and eventually Islam began to prosper from there. During this time, there was a treaty between the Muslims and the Pagan Arabs, but the Pagans broke the treaty. These verses were revealed by Allah as a response to the breaking of the treaty, allowing 4 months for amending the treaty, after which those who broke the treaty may be punished. Before calling this out as an act of Islamic violence — I want you to consider that this how the world works, countries make peace treaties, and if either side breaks the treaty, war breaks out. But the verses go on to detail to act with mercy and forgiveness and to continue to treat well those who treated the Muslims well. Even to the point that there is the specific verse, And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety (9:6), which details that despite it all, if one of the opposers were to even request protection, then the Muslims were obligated by the will of God to protect them. They were only permitted to fight those who would fight them.
Another common verse that people take out of context is:
And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. (2:191)
In context, the verse reads:
Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors. And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. [Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. (2:190-194)
Here, it is explicitly given that Muslims are only permitted to resort to violence if they are attacked and oppressed first and only to the same extent that they have been attacked, and that even then, they must stop the fighting as soon as the other side stops, regardless of whether or not differences have been settled. All this verse does is give Muslims the ability to stand up for themselves, which is a universally acknowledged right for any people, while also maintaining strict guidelines to be merciful and choose peace whenever possible.
As for your point about “infidels” being Christians, Islam acknowledges both Jews and Christians as “people of the book.” We all believe in one God, and we believe in both the Torah and Bible to be revelations of God, and as Christians see the Torah as the Old Testament and the Bible as the New Testament, Muslims see the Qur’an as the final & complete testament. God tells us clearly, The [Muslim] believers, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians – all those who believe in God and the Last Day and do good – will have their rewards with their Lord. No fear for them, nor will they grieve. (2:62)
Again, I hope that this explanation is enlightening, and if there is any good in any of what I have written, it is from Allah alone, and if there is anything incorrect, it is from me, and you have my sincerest apologies in advance.
When I First Fell in Love
The fading topaz walls,
the pictures of flags and names scribbled by a four-year old girl,
attempting to make a new home hers.
I remember the busy streets with police sirens,
the high rusty gates of the abandoned garden.
The smell of cous-cous and mint tea,
perfuming the air.
The sweet humming of my mother’s voice filled our ears,
like Sirens playing to Homer in his journey back to Ithaca.
Take me back to Itaca.
Take me back to Brooklyn and Jersey City,
where my young spirit was like a delicate flower,
breaking through the impenetrable concrete sidewalks of merciless cities.
Take me back to my first ever poem that I wrote in Kindergarten for show and tell.
Take me back when I first fell in love with the way words,
caressed the crinkles on that cafeteria napkin.
The times I let the brilliance of my ballpoint pen escape.
Take me back to when I started my affair with language,
and possessed poetry as my mistress.
I am a poet from those brick buildings in Brooklyn,
a poet from the Saharan village on the outskirts of Oran,
a poet who still keeps flags and scribbled names
on her fading topaz walls,
that shadow her pharmacy textbooks,
and her emerald-green prayer rug.
The night will strike again,
through this mind’s mist,
deadening everything I hear.
That wanton smile
maneuvers to your face;
those rosy, sweet lips
I shall never taste.
Do not entice me
with your warped core.
Do not ensnare me;
release, from this torn mind
Do not love me,
find your lord, your peace.
Keep from me
your wicked art,
your decrepit “heart”.
By Hasan Habib