By Sadia Salman
By Sadia Salman
Love me, I won’t remember
Hurt me, I’ll fall down
Leave me, I’ll stand up
Forget me, I’ve grown
I won’t remember, love me
I’ll fall down, hurt me
I’ll stand up, leave me
I’ve grown, forget me
Forget me, I won’t remember
Leave me, I’ll fall down
Hurt me, I’ll stand up
Love me, I’ve grown
I’ve grown, love me
I’ll stand up, hurt me
I’ll fall down, leave me
I won’t remember, forget me
In my mother’s tongue, girls are nazuuk–
frail and fragile beings with thin limbs and glass bones.
Within this predestined definition, we live by a certain set of rules, a code that preserves our ‘delicate’ nature:
We are sought after to be as white as the moon, waxed fresh and new. To be like dandelions, pulling on the skin of a flower in every place we may feel like a weed. To be as beautiful as sparrows, as long as each wing is clipped. We are told to cut up our big personalities into bite sized pieces, while swallowing our voices whole—
–as if loud women are contagious. Of course, how uncomfortable must it to be to consider breaking the silence in which women have been unlearning who they are for centuries.
To be nazuuk, we must be soft. Every morning we begin the day by sanding down our edges, making ourselves smaller. By scraping back scales until we are pliable, plucked, pristine packages waiting to be unwrapped. By learning to carry the weight of silence on the small of our backs.
With such a fate, I can’t help but be thick-skinned. My bones live inside an armor of fiery flesh, scales thriving, glowing against a backdrop of muted history.
After generations of caged women, I have filled my hollow body with will and trained myself to fly without wings.
If this means that I am no longer beautiful,
so be it.
By Gia Farooqi
9/24/15- I told him it makes me sad how there’s no love with him. It’s robotic. He doesn’t even say ily… all he does is curse at me. He said it’s hard for him to hold his tongue and show emotion, but he promises to say it more. The words “I’m sorry” didn’t slip from his mouth though.
10/10/15- Much hasn’t changed. Doubting if he even loves me. If he doesn’t, everything makes more sense.
11/12/15- I’m really sad. I just want things to work out. But, it doesn’t seem to be mutual. Should I ask my friends for advice? He said he doesn’t like it when I tell people about our problems. Our problems should be personal, he says. I begin to see the logic, but something doesn’t seem right.
12/9/15- The sadness mixes with confusion and anxiety as I hold all my feelings inside. I don’t want him to be angry.. it’s just not worth it, I think.
1/31/16- Things are much better! I’m so happy, he’s changed so much. I knew he had it in him. Alhamdulillah times a billion!
2/6/16- Why is this happening to me? Why me? Why can’t he just treat me right? Calm down. Stop being over dramatic. His words ripple through my mind.
3/10/16- The unthinkable just happened. I wrap my hijab around my face and neck, pulling the material up just enough to cover the bruises on my jaw, and tell myself it’s okay. When I look in the mirror, I see what the rest of the world sees. A covered, Muslim woman. When I hide the bruises, I also hide from the reality screaming within me. But I would know best, that with enough time, anything can be suppressed.
4/23/16- My friend and I are having a heart to heart. I want to tell her so desperately what has happened. I want to explain why I’m the way I am now, so broken, so fragile, so different than my usual self. I’m scared. I begin to utter the words “Please help me” “P-p-p…” I stop. I flash back to the incident. It’s not worth the fight, I think to myself. My friend looks at me curiously.
5/16/16- “Please. Just stop cursing. Please.” He slams on the breaks and looks at me. That look. That look was all that was needed to bring my voice to a halt. That look spreads fear through my entire body, entering my soul and wrapping around it like chains, chains that squeeze so tight, suffocating me. Trapping the hurt and anger inside, ensuring no chance of escape. No chance of freedom.
6/4/16- My friend and I are having another heart to heart. “Hey.. what were you going to say to me that one time? I know something’s going on with you.” “Nothing.”, I respond. “Just know that Allah swt is the best of all healers. And that He is the All-knowing, the All-wise. Talk to him, if you can’t talk to me.” My eyes swell with tears and I look away. She understands me more than he ever has.
7/4/16- It’s been exactly one month since I told her. I told her everything. All the emotions poured out of me. It’s been exactly 2 weeks since I made the decision to end things. Somehow, my tongue won’t utter the words. It’s not because of fear of him anymore, only of fear of what’s to come. If I don’t have him what do I have? Who will care for me? Who will love me? My entire world is twisted upside down.
8/4/16- Today is the day I’m free. Today is the day he has no power over me. Today is the day I know I don’t need anyone other than the divine. And he and my amazing community will love me. He and my amazing community will take care of me.
A young Muslim woman in an abusive relationship. Something that happens. Something that happens often. To all the women who identify with this poem, KNOW that we are here for you. The Muslim community is here for you. Your sisters are here for you. If you don’t have the strength to get out of this, remember that we can give you that strength. And trust me when I say, that He, our creator, has the ability to give you any strength you need. And that He truly will take care of you.
I have been molded
By all the power of this universe.
There are galaxies
Trapped underneath my skin.
The moon and stars
Live in the whites of my eyes.
There is gold and silver
Flowing in my veins.
I am not as simple as beautiful.
Beauty is where I begin,
But where I end is not yet defined.
I am nothing less than exquisite,
And all proof is clear
In nothing more than a breath.
That I exhale, is enough
To justify all that I am.
And to those who are
To see the sun rays
Shining from my face,
I am so much more
Than you can understand,
And I have not a need in the world
To explain myself to you.
— Tell me one more time that a woman must earn her respect.
By Mahnoor Akhter
Malala Yousefzai is a girl who defied social norms and became an emblem for women’s empowerment around the world. Malala is the brave girl who stood up for girls’ education at the cost of getting shot by extremists who do not believe in educating women. As harsh as it may seem, it is more common than we would like to think, and I know first hand of the obstacles faced by girls trying to obtain an education in Pakistan, where some girls stop education around 12 years old and remain at home cultivating their skills.
What I admire most about Malala is that she is so real and doesn’t care about vanity or fame; rather, she appears in simple shalwar kameez, dupatta and a smile on her face with the simple goal of conveying a plea for girls education. She is not pretentious and remains true to herself. Her passion to help educate girls has made the face of a young Pakistani woman an inspiration to girls all around the world who face adversity in doing justice to themselves. I hope I can believe so fervently in a cause to do the same.
By Habibah Arshad
Women keep it real,
That is how I really feel,
My mom cooks my meals.
By Zahra Bukhari
Daadi, you don’t know what you mean to me,
Your impact is greater than any eye can see,
Every word, every action, every meal,
The amount of times you made my stomach, heart, and soul feel,
So full inside, filled with love,
Always reminding me, of The One Above
You would yell at me when needed,
Just know now that those warnings were heeded,
Forcing me to read Quran, correcting every mistake,
Putting up with my impatience, until my voice would no longer shake,
Scolding my friends and me for staying up late,
Wondering why you were awake, not realizing it was for something great,
Tahajjud is what you were up for, meeting with your Lord,
While we were finishing our video games, about to unplug the cords.
I was such a bad kid when you were alive and I wish you could see,
The person I have become and who I want to be,
You will never know this but you were the reason,
That I never committed treason,
Against the commandments of my Lord, you showed me the way,
To Allah Himself, which is why I pray,
That you are resting peacefully and that one day you’ll see,
The effect that you had when you lived with me
May Allah make your time in the grave easy and reunite us in Jannah.
Using a warrior metaphor, this poem is an ode to women’s efforts and progress regarding breaking the glass ceiling. We fight while maintaining grace and strength during the infinitesimal bout against injustices. May we all continue to establish the equality Allah (SWT) intended for us and truly commemorate women during Women’s History Month and beyond. Ameen.
This warrior is taught to master the art of warfare,
Today is my mother’s birthday.
I found a picture of her
From 30 years ago
In between the flaps of an old wallet.
Her eyes now rimmed with circles,
etched remnants of toil.
They shine the same blue,
A gaze of gentle peace.
I look at her hands,
Calloused and toughened
From years of laborious work.
Yet still so soft
As she caresses my cheek,
Her fingertips like silk
Over the lashes of my eyes.
She recounts to me stories
Of bigoted soldiers
And heinous crimes.
Scoldings and punishment,
Stares of superiority
Slathered over her body
Trying to strip
Dignity from the bone
I know her heart still beats
Rapidly and quickens
At a mention or image
Of those days
That stole her youth.
So we sit in silence
And bask in the rays of
the emerging sun.
By Sarah Attalla
It’s Women’s History Month. Most of the time when we think of women to celebrate, we think of famous women in history. Or our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts. Well today, to all the beautiful women I know out there, I want you to celebrate yourself. Society has instilled in many of our minds that as a woman you are not allowed to showcase any joy with your accomplishments or else you may be labeled as conceited. You may be seen as someone who is selfish or someone who is ignoring the fact that someone has already done what you’ve done so it’s not that special. Even more detrimental is the disappearance of sisterhood when you accomplish something. Everyone is so quick to gossip when they hear something negative about you but no one is quick to spread positive news about you. It is because of this that many women give up on the idea of women being able to work together or being able to trust one another.
However, starting today I want every single one of us to make a promise that not only will we stand up for our fellow sisters but that we will also stand up for ourselves. That our accomplishments are just as important. That the things Allah (swt) has blessed us with are just as beautiful as any other person’s blessings. We must instill in ourselves the idea that what Allah (swt) meant for you was only for YOU and no one else. No matter how similar your situation might be to someone else, your situation is yours and can only be yours. Your beauty is yours. The new job you got is yours. The new family you started is yours. The exam you aced was yours. The diploma you received was yours. You just got married or engaged? That’s yours too. It may seem like you being proud of your accomplishments is creating more individuality than sisterhood but that is not the case at all. It is through our unique experiences and individual identities that sisterhood is able to flourish because when you’re proud of yourself, you want your other sisters to feel proud of themselves too. When you’re proud of yourself, you are more confident, which means you have more to bring to the table. That’s another accomplishment to add to your list right there.
I know that I have so much work to do when it comes to appreciating myself and the things I have accomplished. It is only through that and being happy with what Allah (swt) has blessed me with, that I will be able to truly support my fellow sisters. To all the beautiful ladies out there that I know and do not know, I truly do love and appreciate you and I am proud of you. I pray that Allah (swt) only continues to grant you success in all that you do and instills in you an unwavering, humble confidence in yourself.
So here’s to us. Congrats to me and congrats to you too.
By Kausar Ahmed
You were there for me when I was child, held me close whenever I would cry, smiling, and telling me that it’s going to be alright
You were there for me whenever the world was on my shoulders and lifted it off as if it were nothing
You were there for me when my world was falling apart and told me with patience there will be ease
But, whenever you called my name I always said I’ll be there in five minutes later
Whenever you asked me for my help I would roll my eyes and say why can’t you do this by yourself
Whenever you wanted me to get closer to heaven by easing the pain of your feet I would do a rushed job so I could attend my personal needs
And each every single time you would give a warm smile, hug me and said it was alright Oh how I regret those foolish moments,
Oh how I beg for another second with you, your kind heart, your gentle eyes and those welcoming arms, I yearn for it all, just one more time
But time is not on my side, you lay six feet in the ground and as my tears fall my face, my hands are raised in the air, praying that you enter the highest level of heaven
And forgive a son who should have cared
By Mohsin Raza
One of the customs of pre-Islamic Arabia was Zihar, which was an act of divorce that would forbid a wife to a husband as a mother is forbidden upon her son. They would do this by saying, “You are unlawful to me just like my mother.” A woman by the name of Khaulah Bint Tha’labah came to the Prophet(pbuh) to tell him that her husband did Zihar against her. Since no verses were revealed about this issue, the Prophet (pbuh) said that I have nothing to tell you and in another narration he says that he’s haram for you based on that statement. She responds back saying, “Oh Allah’s messenger, he spent my wealth, exhausted my youth and my womb bore abundantly for him. When I became old, unable to bear children, he pronounced Zihar against me. How shall I go and how will my children live?” The Prophet stays silent and aggrieved and she says, “Ya Allah, I direct my complain to you!”
So, guess who answered her? When no one was able to comfort her and no one was able to answer her plea, her Lord answers her from the 7th heaven:
قَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّتِي تُجَادِلُكَ فِي زَوْجِهَا وَتَشْتَكِي إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ يَسْمَعُ تَحَاوُرَكُمَا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ
Certainly Allah has heard the speech of the one who argues with you, [O Muhammad], concerning her husband and directs her complaint to Allah . And Allah hears your dialogue; indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.
Years later, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, the Calipha at that time, was walking with some of the companions and he gets stopped by a woman. He listens to her attentively while his head bent down and some of the companions asked him, “Why did you stop all of us just to talk to this old lady?” He says, “This is the lady whose complaint was heard from the 7th heaven. So, how can Umar not listen to her? She should be heard for a longer period of time and with greater attention. By Allah, If she did not take a leave of her own accord, I would have stood with her here till the nightfall.”
This is only one incident in which we notice that an individual’s concerns and complaints shouldn’t be disregarded and ignored. The Prophet (pbuh), the companions (ra) and Allah (swt) didn’t let this woman’s plea go unnoticed. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for our communities today, myself included. How many times do we really listen to the concerns of our sisters? How many times do we provide solutions to the problems that they are facing? How many times do we overlook that they even exist in our communities? This isn’t written to bash our masajid or Islamic organizations, but rather this calls for a start at the individual level. Look within yourself and check how you take the concerns and complaints that others bring to you. Start from there and work your way towards fixing your home, then the community you are living within.
I end with some of the words of the Prophet’s final sermon to the Muslims, “Indeed, I order you to be good to women.”
Maarif Ul Quran – Surah Al-Mujadilah(58)
Prophet’s Last Sermon – Hadith
By Omar Shallan
Graphite and relief print on toned paper with lace cut out
Shuts off alarm
places my small feet on the cold hard wood
Reaches proudly for favorite colored poncho
aka hideous lump of fabric
that I loved
Slide my way to the kitchen
Picks up the glass of milk
Lets the warm, sweet milk run down my throat
Notices Amma watching
S – “what Amma?”
S – Silence.
Reaches for black sneakers
Through the loop
around the tree
Amma’s watching again
I want to scream.
“Penn ayali, at least ichiri can mashi itonde po” *if you’re a girl, at least pretend to be and put on some eye-liner and go”*
Shut off alarm.
Put on kajol.
Kiss mom on cheek.
Leave for school.
-The story of a young girl’s first experience of societal expectations, stripping her of herself, as subtle as a petal being torn from the center, and gently hitting the floor.
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.
I would like to set of this month with a few words. Over the last couple of years, I have found myself looking more and more into how women are viewed in Islam and in the world. Islam came around a time when women were not viewed as individuals, they were objects that could brought shame to fathers and were used to solidify deals. During its inception, a significant shift in women’s rights took precedent and to this day are of huge historical significance. Women were no longer subjected to infanticide, they became a huge part of society and are to this day some of the most revered individuals in Islam. But we must understand that respect of women is still a struggle due to cultural and societal norms, that in no way has the world embraced the full respect and equality for women that Islam preaches. This month is a way for us to understand and to work towards changing ourselves and our various communities towards creating a society that truly embraces and acknowledges women.
The Prophet (SAW) would consult women on many different matters, they were given special status in society and were in no way disregarded. One of the first Muslims was a business woman who provided for the Prophet (SAW). One of the people most beloved to him was his wife above his friends. Women worship, pray, give charity, gather knowledge and struggle for the sake of Allah (SWT) all the same.
This month is an incredible opportunity to delve deeper and learn different lessons from the multiple perspectives provided, from biographical works to experiences in the modern world. I hope that over this time you will learn, question, discuss, and simply just ponder over many of the ideas you will see. I ask that you all be respectful of everyone and encourage you to also contribute to this month by tweeting and sharing posts on Facebook.
May Allah (SWT) reward you with goodness
By Mahmud Helal
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By Bara Elhag
Demand wallflowers to stay silent
Onyx lies glitter darkly as
New Age slavery keeps
Awakening old age
Laments, we did not prepare eulogies
Death, we always thought, was far
Tickets to our pain show are selling out
Reuse racism, recycle hatred, remove
Us out of the fabric of US
Maybe menstrual pains would
Paint orange into a different color
Panicked, then weaved worry between love and hope
Recalled that the Prophet had it harder
Escaping America isn’t an answer
Shutting our doors even to those who
Incite against us isn’t what the Prophet would have
Done; doomsday isn’t until Allah allows us to
Enter the grave; our wounds: sources of
Nourishment — tough past,
Tougher people — Iman can break walls.
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Medium: Intaglio Print/Etching
By Sarah Attalla
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By Talyah Basit
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the United Nations building. After meeting with representatives from two European countries, we were offered a tour of the premises. The tour guide, a slight woman from Madagascar with a penchant for irony, explained the layout of all the important meeting rooms and the significance of the discussions held there. In one of the most spectacular halls, she informed us that a meeting on the Syrian refugee crises had occurred recently. Leaders from all the important countries in the world had convened to discuss a resolution to the calamity.
On the way home, as the lights from the city dimmed, I wondered what it means to be considered a burden, a problem that the world can choose to ignore. The silhouette of the city was visible across the water, as it always has been during our countless trips to and from our suburban towns. The notion that the city could disappear overnight is unthinkable; in our consciousness, the innumerable skyscrapers will always stand subordinate to the Empire State building, all guarded by the watchful gaze of the Statue of Liberty. Scores of people will weave through its street and the spectacle of humanity will continue, in all of its glorious and mundane moments. There is a permanency to historical cities that memory may distort but the essential foundation will remain intact.
Aleppo is considered one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world: the World Heritage Convention dates it to 2000 B.C and its archaeological remains suggest a lengthier history Facing unremitting bombardment, mass destruction, and a humanitarian crisis that belies description, the city of Aleppo is expected to be “totally destroyed by Christmas” according to the United Nations special envoy for Syria(1). Such a succinct statement cannot possibly encompass the full weight of the forces of history, culture, and religion that have shaped this ancient metropolis. Most urgently, what happens to the residents of Aleppo and its surrounding regions as the city is being destroyed? The people of a city remain, in its ruins or in exile, even after the last brick has fallen. Certainly, they carry the memory of their city, their homeland, within them. As Abbas Beydoun reminds us in his poetic rumination on the destruction of a Lebanese suburb,“Here, there were scores of men and their fragrant tobacco smoke, and the unnamed freedoms; here there was a love of overcrowding, of being lost, of wandering about in the streets and neighborhoods; and here, there were people; there was hospitality.”(2) The suburb of Dahiya was completely flattened in the 2006 Lebanon war, but Beydoun emphasizes that a city, as an entity comprising people, continues to breathe, even after mass destruction.
Although it was probably meant as a call to action, the phrasing of the United Nations statement struck me as attributing an almost cursory tone to an event of tremendous personal, political and historical magnitude. The devastation of this ancient city, this mecca for the cultured and adventurous, should not be another caption on the timeline of the history of the Middle East. We should critically evaluate why it seems more natural to attribute vast statements without consideration for nuance or context to non-western countries. The indignation that should arise from a statement like “Aleppo will be destroyed” should not differ in intensity from a statement that involves cities that are familiar to western audiences. Aleppo is home to one million people, although the number is steadily decreasing due to war casualties and people fleeing the country(3). A city that has been the locus of several civilizations and bred countless generations of luminaries, teeming with personal narratives, cannot be reduced to rubble in the course of a few months.
Writing about Syria is one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever faced. Part of the difficulty stems from the bleakness of the entire situation and dismay at the world’s treatment of the Syrian refugees. Another point to consider is the capabilities of a writer’s contributions to an issue that has been dissected in the public sphere, usually without much help to the refugees at the center of the crisis. How do you add value to your words when the rhetoric is reduced to platitudes and empty promises? How do you convey the immensity of the situation without misinterpretation? This issue has been revisited and rethought in the wake of atrocities and calamities. Theodor Adorno’s famous (albeit often misquoted) statement is now part of our cultural consciousness –“to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”–but even Adorno ultimately accepted the necessity of “expression”. It is precisely this expression that should be valued and upheld as Syria is besieged on all sides from different forces. The nameless swath that the word “refugee” evokes denies the individuality of the residents of Aleppo and other cities. Let us consider the personal histories of the people of Aleppo, who belong to one of the oldest cities in the world. Let us remember the schoolteacher, the bus driver, the father holding his son at the intersection of a busy street. As the world debates on a resolution to the war and refugee crisis, recall the words of Abbas Beydoun: “Can a poet say anything about ruined places that need topographers, astronomers, city-planners, cineastes, computers more than they need poets? The place consists of heaps upon heaps, of plains of ruined heaps. Can we be deviant and speak about beauty here? Or is the real ruin on our tongues?”
In the case of the citizens of Aleppo and Syria as a whole, let us not fail them with our tongues as we have with our actions. The world’s dismissal of their humanity by categorizing them as potential security threats or burdens on host countries should not be added to their constantly expanding list of traumatizing experiences. We need to ensure that the transition from “here is” to “here was” does not materialize in actuality, if it already has in memory.
1 – Wintour, Patrick. “Eastern Aleppo Could Be Destroyed by Christmas, Warns UN Syria Envoy.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 06 Oct. 2016. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.
2 – Beydoun, Abbas. “A Possible Poem on Dahiya.” Lebanon,Lebanon. Saqi Books, 2006. 17-21. Print.
3 – BBC News. “Profile: Aleppo, Syria’s Second City.” BBC News. 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 06 Nov. 2016.
By Ghayoor Arshad
After fajr I make it a habit to try and learn something new, whether it’s memorizing Quran or watching a lecture. I recently watched a video regarding the people who will be spared from any judgement or punishment on the Day of Judgement. I was in awe that there was even such a group of people and wanted to know how to be a part of them (considering it’s a small amount of people from what we know). I eagerly awaited to hear what sort of epic criteria was needed to gain entrance into such an elite group, but I was confused upon learning the traits of the 70,000.
They are as follows:
At first I thought that these requirements were scattered at best, and downright disconnected at worst. I almost felt despondent at how unrelated and nearly trivial these requirements were. But I kept thinking about it. Why is it that these four characteristics save one from the tortures of the most dreaded day? A day where even the Prophets (save one) will be too scared to ask Allah for anything out of Allah’s sheer anger. Like seriously, what could not cauterizing a wound and ignoring bad Omens have to do with that? I kept thinking and thinking when it suddenly hit me!
*Bear in mind that what follows next is solely my opinion and not based on anything with proof so I could be totally wrong but I’m still excited to share it*
So taking a look at the first condition, we are talking about not asking for Ruqya. Now for those that don’t know, Ruqya can very loosely be described as exorcism. It doesn’t always have to be jinn related, but it always deals with internal struggles. The one suffering from an ailment that requires Ruqya often feels alone, stressed, and almost untrustful of his or her own thoughts. Having seen people like this, I know just how bad it can get. And having seen those same people getting drastically better as a result of Ruqya, I know just how beneficial it can be. So why on Earth would a condition to escape judgement be the lack of seeking Ruqya?
Because it builds internal and mental fortitude and causes a shift in cognition in the firm believer. Yes, there is a benefit from Ruqya that can be brought on, but the one who does not actively seek it, and instead decides to leave their mental well being to Allah, is certainly praiseworthy. To have the conviction that no matter how low you think you are, how bad your mind has gotten, how little you think you’re worth or capable of, you know and trust with absolute certainty that Allah alone will be the one to help you out of your rut. SubhanAllah.
The second condition talks about refusing cauterization. Again the same logic is applied but to a lesser degree. Cauterizing can definitely provide benefit, but it causes a great deal of pain and difficulty to do so. It’s said that the Prophet PBUH allowed it, but very much disliked it due to the amount of pain it caused. But again, a type of reliance is being seen here.
The third condition is that of not following bad omens. In the first two conditions, Allah deals with creating fortitude in oneself, and this third condition only furthers that solid base. By not being swayed by such weak and feeble concepts such as black cats and cracks in pavement, the believer that dismisses Omens creates a heightened level of Taqwa and Tawwakul by recognizing that it is Allah who is in control, not anything else. So again, we see the mind of the believer being changed to shift its reliance from thinking that is stuck in tradition and superstition, to thinking that is based in logic and understanding upon Allah.
And the last condition is there as if to almost tie it all together: having Tawwakul on Allah. This is the crux of the matter. This is what we’ve been building up towards.
If you look at the first condition, it’s the fortification of the spiritual self. No matter what is going on with your nafs and relationship with Allah, you make Allah your exclusive form of intervention and help. This is not so dissimilar to how Ibrahim AS refused the help of Jibreel AS, but chose to rely on Allah instead in a time of need.
The second condition is a fortification of the physical self. If the vessel for the spirit is in danger, then the same approach is taken to first and foremost trust Allah, as He is the one who created a cure for every disease.
And the third condition is the fortification of the mind, that which controls the nafs and the body. By having your mind trained to cut through the folly of the dunya, and keep its eyes on the prize (the aakhira) you are able to keep yourself on the straight path.
So these four conditions, as scattered as they may have seemed, are building up the perfect reliance on Allah. They’re creating a believer that fiercely sticks to relying on Allah before and above anything else. The genius of this Hadith is that it causes a paradigm shift in how a believer thinks. Everything from the mind to the body to the soul is entrusted to Allah. And doesn’t it sound like someone who leaves every affair to Allah is the kind that deserves a reward like no one else?
By Hira Shahbaz
Hello, future voter! It’s that time of the decade again where the good citizens of the United States of America collectively decide on who should be our new leader, and seeing how this election season has been one giant crazy bus that has no idea that brakes are an invention, it’s safe to say that all of us are a little bit worried about the outcome. So it stands to reason that the more informed the voter, the less chance of a spectacular crash we may most probably end up in.
This is the first year millennials are getting the chance to vote so I better see you standing at those polls (or turning in an absentee ballot like I have to) changing our country for the better. Because if you don’t, here’s a complete breakdown of all the Presidential candidates’ stance on some important topics to convince you that yes, your vote does matter.
Note: I am going to try to be as unbiased as possible in giving you the facts, but even still I want you to visit the links below just in case I sound like I’m leaning more towards one candidate than the other. I hope you gain enough information to make that fateful decision on November 8th.
Gary Johnson, Libertarian: Just so that we’re all on the same page, I like to define broad terms such as libertarianism. This idea encompasses the belief that our federal government shouldn’t be involved in making big decisions regarding our economy, and that it should try to stick its nose into it as little as possible. He’s open-minded about some topics like funding Planned Parenthood but takes a more controversial stance on others like the famous Citizens United case which said that “corporations are people.” Keep that in mind, he’s a tricky dude.
Pros: One of the main things he emphasizes is the empowerment of the individual and his freedoms – through supporting policies like drug legalization and free trade, and the near complete withdrawal of the government from the market; he wants to establish a laissez-faire government (a government that is minimally involved in any type of regulation) which means getting rid of a lot of government departments such as the Departments of Education, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development. He has a pretty extensive tax plan but he essentially wants to implement something called FairTax which calls for slashing taxes immensely, basically eliminating all types of taxes like income and corporate taxes and replacing them with one federal consumption tax. It’s got a lot of benefits like creating jobs and boosting economic growth, but it’s a risky maneuver. One thing he is adamant about is having no intervention in foreign affairs; defunding foreign military aid and focusing on domestic problems is his concern. Lastly, he feels abortion is wholly a woman’s right and decision.
Cons: When companies inevitably do go under the government won’t bail them out but there’s no telling to what extent that might hurt the US economy. He supports corporate growth through more privatization. Huge companies will have even less restrictions than before so starting up small businesses will get much harder. He’ll cut social welfare benefits like Social Security and doesn’t believe free college is worth the cost to the economy.
Controversial stances: pro-gun rights, repealing Obamacare
Yeah, he’s also a bit of a weirdo.
He thought he could get away with this on TV but I guess he didn’t count on the Internet’s ability to sniff out anything even remotely incriminating.
Here’s a good website that summarizes what his party believes in: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/281399-5-things-the-libertarian-party-stands-for
Jill Stein, Green: “Clean Up America” is the slogan for Stein’s Green party. It focuses on the environment and what we can do to help out this Earth we live in and reverse some of the damage humans have done to it, and includes a detailed plan on how to achieve that, unlike other candidates. She believes in dispensing justice and is strongly against the torture and inhumane treatment of human beings, regardless of what side they’re on. Her plans are ambitious but her heart’s in the right place.
Pros: Her main focus is to halt global climate change and discontinue the usage of fossil fuels. She bases a lot of her policies on switching to clean, renewable energy and protecting the Earth, including extensive research and implementation into new types of energy. Preserving the national parks and public areas is one of her priorities. She advocates for labeling GM foods until proven safe, encouraging the sale and consumption of organic foods. In terms of foreign policy she is much like Johnson: cut military spending and don’t get involved with foreign affairs. She is also very big humanitarian movements – stopping inhumane treatments of prisoners, both domestic and foreign, and huge reformation of the police system in the US. Similar to Sanders, she wants easier access to healthcare for everyone.
Cons: Though she has a rough plan for compensation switching workers between energy industries creates a loss of jobs and for a time we might be facing a high unemployment rate, which could mess up the economy quite a bit; it’s gonna be rough moving all those jobs. Her radical stances may be too unrealistic for her to get elected, so she may have to compromise a lot to appease the majority of voters especially with her renewable energy policies, but thanks to Sanders popularizing progressive movements like these the compromises may not be so bad. When asked about details on her policies besides energy, however, she always gives vague answers which don’t give us much confidence.
Controversial stances: writing off student loans
I guess you could take a look at her album, too. For an insight into what she truly, passionately believes in… or if you like obscure 90’s rock.
I like it, okay?
Here’s more detail on all of those points: http://www.jill2016.com/platform
Hillary Clinton, Democrat: There’s no denying Senator Clinton is the highest ranking candidate qualified for this job despite all the controversy surrounding her. Her career spans over thirty years working as a First Lady, Senator for New York, and Secretary of State, a position specializing in foreign affairs. She’s made some unpopular decisions in the past regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but she’s become more reserved in this election. She feels engaged diplomacy and activity on the global stage is the best way to maintain our prominent position. Largely influenced by Sanders, some think that she says all these things to get the popular vote, coupled by a surprising amount of scandals accused in her name. Her policies might convince you over her good intent, but working in a predominantly male, constantly judgmental, misogynistic environment tends to take a toll on your cheery personality.
Pros: She agrees on a lot of issues from Sanders’ platform such as universal health care, raising taxes on the rich and establishing debt-free college. Gun control background checks are to keep guns off the streets, not to restrict our 2nd amendment freedoms. In addition to raising the minimum wage to $12, her budget plan will create 10 million more jobs. She vows to work on Obamacare and expand government welfare projects like Social Security and Medicare. Making immigration and citizenship easier for those coming into the country as well as those born in the US from non-citizens. Mass incarceration has gone too far, and the police needs reform to better protect all American people.
Cons: She’s definitely hesitant on stopping fracking – as long as it obeys regulation – but still wants the US to be the #1 clean energy superpower and opposes building the Keystone Pipeline. The only mention of American Muslims has been in reference to them being “our eyes and ears for the American frontlines,” as if every Muslim possesses some inside knowledge to be taken advantage of. Her eagerness to engage in foreign affairs can be seen as “too interventionist,” even though she has cut back on foreign interference it says a lot about her opinion on how eager she wants the US to be prominent.
Controversies: dodges questions on emails, ambivalent on Big Bank regulation reform, huge amounts of money backing her
Her official site: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/
Donald Trump, Republican: There’s not a lot you can say about Trump since the media has already said it all, but if we’re trying to be impartial here there’s one thing we can say about Trump: he’s unique. And he can be unique in that the Republican Party has repeatedly stated Trump does not accurately represent their beliefs, or that Trump is running for a political office even though he has no experience whatsoever, or that Trump is an absurdly-honest and confident individual that’s a breath of peculiar air from shifty politics. He leans slightly libertarian; since he is a businessman, he’d like a free market with less regulation. And yet, many people vote for him because he symbolizes the retaliation to the established order that is our increasingly inexcusable government.
Pros: He speaks to the Americans who are scared, and more importantly disappointed with how previous governments threw their country into the mess it’s in today, and he does that by being especially tough on ISIS and willing to go the extra mile to keep the American people safe. He speaks the truth that everyone is unwilling to voice, with a confidence that’s hard to beat. To help boost the economy, he wants to reduce outsourcing of industries and factories and bring them back into the US, increasing domestic spending and creating an abundance of new jobs as well as sustaining old ones such as the coal industry. His distrust of government officials pushes him for greater term limits on Congress.
Cons: He’s just a businessman, and a bad one at that; he has held no political office or has had any experience at all in political matters. On the big topics, his policies are almost the opposite of Clinton’s: general exceptions include the war on terror and Social Security and most of his stances are based on subjective reasoning instead of hard political circumstance. Diplomacy isn’t his strong suit so foreign relations may be tenuous at first. Increased surveillance among the American people will create more distrust instead of alleviating it.
Controversies: NAFTA trade agreement, numerous scandals
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/political-issues/. This article compares Clinton and Trump on the issues in an easy to read format.
I picked out the biggest, most relevant topics but that’s a short list of what our four candidates’ platforms are. Buckle up, and say your du’as at the polling booths!
By Puja Trivedi
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known” -Brene Brown
One of the saddest moments that happens to me, quite frequently, is when a close friend, someone who I truly admire and love with all my heart, tells me how they’ll “never be able to look like her,” as they move their phone screen over so that I can see an image of a girl whose makeup and outfit are that of a model on a magazine cover who practically shines of beauty…..or maybe shines of Instagram brightness. I say image, rather than person, because that is just what it is. An image that has been filtered, cropped, edited and posed; nothing close to a realistic scene in the tussle of everyday life. Now, I completely believe that the girl on the screen is actually beautiful, however the Instagram selfie of her is not the reason why; just as I think that my friend is beautiful, both inside and out. Every time she dreadfully shows me another fashion blogger who is the ideal of perfection she wishes she could achieve, I only pray that she will recognize and be grateful for the beauty that lies in her uniqueness, in her imperfections. However, as much as it hurts me to hear someone tell me this, I am not one to judge for I also fall victim to this dialogue in my thoughts, but can you blame us?
Every single day, we scroll through the lives of celebrities, schoolmates and colleagues; we find their latest tweets, their Instagram posts and their Facebook albums to get a peek into who they “truly” are.We learn about their loving friends, their beautiful vacation, and their cookie-cutter family. As we sit with our phones, consumed in the pressure of our , we start to wonder if we are the only ones who don’t have everything together. If maybe we are doing something wrong because we are stumbling while others seem to be perfectly happy. And of course, we remind ourselves that this is just an augmented reality, for we know that best from the times that we have posted flawless selfies at the times we have truly felt the lowest in our hearts. But even knowing this, after daily and continuous exposure to these images we can’t help but let it get to us. Whether it’s seeing someone have a good day while you had a bad one, seeing a post of someone with their family while you just got into a fight with yours, or seeing someone succeeding while you barely pass your exams; social media can truly turn our greatest insecurities into the prettiest of pictures.
Social Media outlets claim to serve as a source of human connection, and I do believe that it has allowed us to maintain relationships in ways we couldn’t have done before, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a means for true and whole connection. I mean think about it- you miss someone, so you check their snapchat stories or you chat with them for hours. But does that really fill the loneliness that has accumulated while spending time away from that person? And does social media interaction truly define the relationship you have with them? The influence of social media in molding the perception of a perfect reality is very dangerous. It leads to a huge loss of self-confidence, jealousy, ingratitude and even more than that, it can lead to depression and anxiety. Most of all, it can cause you to indulge your time and feelings into this device that causes you negative emotions. These negative emotions become normal, they become a huge part of who you are. So instead of stopping, you counter it, by doing your part in posting deceptive pictures in attempt of self-satisfaction. The cycle continues, however we are not truly connected.
Social Media allows connection that is “filtered” and though we may feel our reputation is where we want it to be, our hearts are left to feel lonely. To me, true human connection is everything that social media takes away. When you take away the screens, all that is left is our inadequacies. It’s everything that is behind the smile in the picture. Because behind the smiling faces on a picture, lies what a picture cannot capture; a person’s true and raw emotions and feelings that no emoji can define. Behind someone’s smile, lies a broken family, the death of a loved one, a sickness; pain and struggle no one can imagine. At the end of the day we are all human, and the very beauty of our existence comes from how we help others when they fall. That empathy comes from being vulnerable and feeling that it’s okay to show our struggles so that we can truly help each other. To me, that’s connection. There’s no way to feel more connected.
Just a few weeks ago, I attended a retreat for a business organization. The goal of the retreat was to bond and break the ice of the members in the group, and we were put in a circle and each one of us had to answer the questions given by the moderator. Our organization consisted of about thirty Rutgers students, and we had a few weekly meetings prior to this retreat but none in which we all got to talk to each other on a personal level. The questions were just regular questions to help us get to know each other better, maybe find something we relate to. But then, it got personal. We were asked when the last time we cried was…. Panic ran through my body and various thoughts entered my head…. For me, this was an easy answer, it was not too long ago that I had cried and I recalled it right away, however I felt a sense of nervousness run through my heart. I wondered if I should answer honestly, I didn’t really know these people. I assumed that most people hadn’t cried recently. I just hoped that I didn’t have to answer first. As we went around the circle answering the question, I was in complete shock.
The students were very diverse and different, female and male; different majors, different backgrounds and completely different lifestyles… with one thing in common: we all cried within the past two weeks. And that is the pretense of social media, it makes you think you’re the only one, and that if you show a helpless side to you no one will understand. In this moment of sensitivity, there was a feeling of empathy that filled the air around us as we saw each other, unfiltered, in the present moment we were in. Understanding these people were not the unrealistic, perfect kinds of people they uphold their image to represent created a completely different atmosphere for the rest of the retreat. The fake smiles that we held so tightly to our faces were able to relax, and we were able to feel a sense of comfort because these fellow colleagues were suddenly relatable. It was such a small, seemingly insignificant moment, but to me it meant everything. True connection is not through social platforms where we choose what we want others to see, it’s allowing ourselves to be true to who we are and authentic; it is truly amazing to see what can happen between people once that filter is lifted.
With all thirty of us sharing this special moment of connection through sharing our weaknesses, I felt ashamed. Why was my vulnerability something that I was afraid to show others? Why do we feel the need to post only the images we feel are ideals of perfection in this society, rather than our true feelings and emotions? Whenever someone posts a Facebook status of a rant of something negative they are feeling, we automatically dismiss it as someone seeking attention. Society has instilled in us that we should be seeking to be perfect that we are often bothered when we see a post that breaks this standard. Constantly, society tells us that flaws and weaknesses should be associated with failure, and that success is striving to reach perfection no matter what means it takes. We buy the newest makeup products, or tickets to the coolest places, hoping we can have this perfect image displayed to us in society, and similarly, we post pictures online in order to represent this ideal. We have bought into this fact with every filter we add trying to allow our image to conform. Social Media has become a part of these norms instilled into us, so much so that it can even seem to control us. From the times we sacrifice sleep to stay up on our social media platforms, to when we go to events just to make our instagram and snapchat look better. It has become like a drug that has intoxicated our perceptions and ideals, and caused us to succumb to a culture of high standards. Many people feel that the reality of their life is too difficult to handle, so they go towards intoxication because they like the deception that it provides them. It makes them someone their not, and allows them to feel immediate and momentary happiness, without actually changing the problems they are facing. And they get addicted to this feeling, and they keep using. If abused, social media can destroy our vulnerability and imperfections that allow us to be human.
As a Muslim, I believe that we know better than to allow ourselves to be consumed by this ideal of perfection that we know we are not created for. We learn that balance is everything, to balance our deen with our dunya. To balance our schoolwork, our friends, our Quran reading, our five prayers, and our families. In the same way, I think it’s important to control our social media usage: from how much we are on it, to what we are posting/following, to the feelings we have when using it. At the end of the day, Islam reminds us that we are not meant for this world, rather we are strangers to this life, and simply traveling through it. The amount of likes we get on our statuses will mean absolutely nothing to us. What does mean something, is the way we feel about ourselves, and what deeds we are actually able to accomplish. A true, meaningful connection can take us such a longer way than attempting to achieve an unattainable status of perfection that can only be truly given to us in Jannah. Next time you see a post that hinders your self-conception remember that Allah reminds us in the Quran, “The life of this world is nothing but an illusory enjoyment” Quran (3:158)
By Sadia Salman
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By Kausar Ahmed
Once Upon A Time, I came to the stage in my life where I couldn’t help but notice that everyone around me was getting married. It’s even harder when you go on a Muslim bridal page on Instagram and see all the beautiful brides with their handsome husbands and beautiful smiles. Often times I shake off the feeling of loneliness by praying and constantly reminding myself when it is time for me to marry, by Allah’s grace I will . And yet I can’t help but think… are my standards too high?
Is there something wrong with me wanting someone whose Islam is better or on the same level as mine? Is it weird that I want to marry someone who will find me funny and play fight with me? Is it too much for me to pray for someone who won’t talk down to me as if I’m less than them and will think I’m intelligent? Is it not sweet that I want someone to lead as I pray behind them during Fajr prayer? Is there something wrong in my desire to even get married in the first place?
These are questions I ask myself from time to time when I think about the man I want to marry. But then I realize that marriage isn’t just about the husband being good enough for the wife; the wife must also be good enough for the husband. Maybe that is why I’m not married yet. It could be me. I could be the one who has to get my life together before my husband appears out of thin air. At least, I wish he would.
Then I wonder if my future husband thinks about me. Does he pray about me the way I pray about him? Has he gotten marriage proposals only to turn them down because he hasn’t found the one yet? Do I know him? Have I seen him somewhere before? Then I get scared that maybe I missed my chance and will spend the rest of my life in a big house with 3 cats. I mean, it wouldn’t be that bad. After all, it’s not like marriage is the equivalent of HALF OF YOUR ISLAM.
When I start on my marriage tirade, I usually go on for a good hour. I call up a friend and whine to her about how I’ll never find my habibi (my beloved). Sometimes I spice it up and lightly bang my head on the wall and then fake cry (just for dramatics of course, I’m in real despair here). Or I’ll do the unthinkable and ask my mom if… no I don’t. When I’ve calmed down, I remember Allah once again and remind myself that He knows what is best for me and that I should just focus on my education.
I then proceed to sit back down on my throne (this rocking chair), put my crown (hat) back on and resume being the Queen of my kingdom (my room of course). Oh, and I live happily ever after.
By Talyah Basit
Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across a picture of a childhood friend hosting a dinner party. My friend stood poised in an embroidered Pakistani dress, the very figure of generous hospitality. She was framed in a spacious and well-lit house, which would have been meticulously prepared for the weekend dinner party, a ritual that was familiar to the community of South Asian that had grown over the decades in our pocket of the Northeast. Instantly, Clarissa Dalloway, Virginia’s Woolf’s refined character, came to mind. But as any reader of Woolf knows, one’s public persona does not usually reflect personal anxieties Just as an immaculate home doesn’t acknowledge the differences that might exist within its interior, the nature of social media brushes all of our insecurities and flaws under a veneer of casual perfection. I can’t know what my friend was thinking or feeling, but instead of debating the pros or cons of social media, I am more interested in the social and political dynamics of the first and second generation South Asian immigrant communities and how they make sense of the world in which they were raised. A sense of complacency and an alignment with traditional middle class ideals, embodied in the attainment of a lucrative job and a beautiful house, have become the primary terms of the suburban South Asian immigrant lexicon.
Suburbia is unsettling because of its bland sameness, both in physical and emotional actuality. From the identical houses painted in slightly different shades and the carefully trimmed hedges to the cultivation of similar thought processes, living in suburbia is navigating a terse balance between acceptance and rejection from within and outside of the community. I am most familiar with the community that belonged to the relatively stable and affluent generation whose parents had flocked to the suburbs of New York City, Dallas, and Chicago. We routinely hear the narratives of struggle and strife of which we were meant to be the redemptive fruit. My mother recalls her early days in America with sorrow, before she became acquainted with other immigrants and South Asian grocers. One of my earliest memories is coming across her crying in her closet. Upon seeing me, she quickly dried her eyes and smiled at me. Separated from her native Pakistan where the majority of her family lived, my mother had no choice but to become acclimated to America. We, the children, were humbled and promised to exceed our parents’ expectations, which would manifest in the proverbial white house, the bastion of social acceptance. White suburbia would have to deal with the influx of brown communities, which would follow in its stead of developing enclosed spaces that allowed its residents to live in relative comfort and security.
The price paid for our comfortable upbringings was the shouldering of responsibility and the fear of parental disappointment. Our material comfort didn’t exclude us from experiencing the expected anxieties of childhood and then adolescence. Compounded with the usual worries was the wave of xenophobic and, especially troubling for the Muslim population, Islamophobic policies and attitudes that trailed in the wake of 9/11. Our generation’s position became even more precarious. On the one hand we wanted to fit in, down to our stylishly torn jeans and converse sneakers. But having been fed on a diet of traditional customs, including our parents’ desire to eventually “go back”, we were understandably reluctant to relinquish the very things that made us…us. This conflicting dynamic defined much of our early struggles, evidenced in the myriad of coming of age stories and cemented by the often repeated adage: too east for the west, too west for the east. In particular, the Muslim population had to contend with increasingly hostile attitudes that manifested in policies that targeted their communities. Understandably, many turned toward upholding the image of a respectable, law-abiding citizen. As our parents moved to cities and settled in outlying suburbs, we downplayed our religious and ethnic differences and reveled in our civic “sameness”.
A relative recently bought a house five minutes away from ours in a well-to- do neighborhood. Our elders sighed in relief. She has fulfilled her part of the bargain made between parent and child, self, and country. Those who cannot or do not complete the deal are offered a close look at Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, which features the disintegration of an American family following the various members’ inability to amount to much, in the eyes of middle-class America. The last line, uttered by the wife of the deceased salesman, is particularly haunting: “I made the last payment on the house today…And there’ll be nobody home”. However enticing it may be, the dream of social and personal happiness in the attainment of material goals, is only illusory. Even if it is somehow attained, it is at the cost of a greater inequality being meted out, by virtue of a socio-economic system that rewards a select few and disenfranchises the rest. The history of suburbia is a good illustration of this dynamic: as certain groups migrated to urban areas, the upper-middle class flocked to areas outside the cities where they built enclosed communities that excluded those who didn’t fit its criteria (which was simply being white). Decades after their initial growth, our parents settled in the suburbs and gave us the keys. They experienced some local dissent given the exclusionary nature of suburbia with locals complaining about the “unsavory” new residents. A neighbor of ours once called the zoning board because she was worried we were working on some nefarious scheme. We were cleaning our backyard.
But what we do with the key is an enormously salient question that will determine the trajectory of our communities. It is unsurprising that many of us continue to place the key in its original position and use it to open the door to our meticulously cultivated upper middle class life. This isalso reflected in our artistic output, from books such as The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri’s exploration of suburban life as told through the eyes of a first generation Indian-American family, to digital narratives that emphasize that we are just like everyone else. South Asian American diaspora narratives are fatigued with Austen-esqe worlds that privilege domestic life or nostalgic ruminations for a homeland that was always out of reach and in some ways, never ours to begin with. Unfortunately, it appears that the discontent of suburbia has made its way into the content of our literature.
However, I believe we are becoming aware that assimilation will not lead to acceptance. Regardless of the nature of our pristine lawns and the number of framed degrees on our walls, our ethnic, religious, and political differences will not go unnoticed as long as America is premised on a system of white hegemony. It is important that we re-evaluate our allegiances and our priorities. Despite our desire to identify with a certain class, given our financially stable upbringing, we have to to challenge systemic injustice and exploitation. The fact that SouthAsian Americans have to conform to the standards of white suburbia to feel acknowledged and accepted is already problematic. Living in a self-imposed bubble is a topical solution to systematic discrimination based on the misleading belief that if we act and live like you, we will be protected from the type of injustices doled out to other minority communities. Not only do we have to be cognizant of the ways in which other communities are suffering, we also have to address our own complicity in upholding a fundamentally unequal system. Whether it’s speaking out against corporate greed taking advantage of vulnerable Native American tribes or the routine targeting of the Black community by a trigger-happy authority force, the South Asian community needs a collective conscious movement toward implementing and fighting for justice. Coming to terms with the inequality present in our system means we are better equipped to fight it-and fight it we must, as our political and moral responsibility.
South Asian Americans belong to one of the fastest growing and mobile demographic in the United States. Various studies have indicated that they tend to be highly educated and financially secure, thus bearing significant leverage. It is time that we exchange the key for a better vision, one that is not premised on the ubiquitous white house or the value of financial assets, but on the greater political and social involvement of South Asians in building a more equal and conscientious society. Perhaps then we may be able to sleep soundly, a dream worthy of pursuing.
Special thanks to Raka Chaki and Jauzey Imam for their help.
I’m bad with words
And I still have yet to find,
A pen for my script,
To make it legible and crisp.
I’m bad with words,
I wish they were polished and ordered,
Like strung pearls,
Buffed and smoothed like sea glass.
I’ll try again,
But this horizon doesn’t know where to begin.
I’m bad with words,
My paper is as blank as the petals of jasmine.
Hoping the dyes of its neighbors will stain a few phrases,
The footprints of bees will assemble a sentence,
The swift fluttering of a hummingbird’s wing
Will dust the page of stammering.
I’m bad with words, yes.
They’re packaged in cardboard,
Wrapped in newspaper,
Tied in vine,
Tied in twine.
I’m bad with words,
So I lift my hands
Heavy from clutching my jagged thoughts,
Thoughts crackling like thunder,
Like the tide is approaching and retreating,
Erasing and revealing.
I’m bad with words,
But in the comfort of screaming silence,
I’ll sit holding on to them,
If life is counted in breaths, then this moment is gauged in sighs,
Unable to be tainted, twisted, it’s a sign,
Maybe it is best that my words stay mine.
I’m bad with words and hearts and I don’t cry,
But if you give me your words I will hold them with mine.
Store them in the pockets of my heart and the garage of my head.
Hold them with the sparks of my lingering thoughts.
I will hold your words, safe and sound.
I will hold your words, away from harm and above ground.
I’m bad with words
But these words are now ours.
I will lock them in my chest and chain them to my brain.
I will grasp them tight until they’re printed in time.
And I will lift your words up so maybe He’ll take mine,
I will lift them up to the One Whose words are divine.
By Zeeshan Qureshi (Inspired by Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges)
”I will never let my schooling interfere with my education.”- Mark Twain
We are often told we live in the Information Age, and it’s true. Very true. First it was the internet, a whole wealth of information was available at the touch of a few keys on a keyboard. Then came the smartphone. With one device, accessing this unmeasurable amount information went from our computers to our pockets. People in the previous century would kill-yes kill- to have our resources. Yet, as much as we look at our phones and use our computers, do we really know more than those before us? Are we as literate?
We first have to define literacy. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines literacy as “the ability to read and write” or “knowledge that relates to a specified subject.” But let’s delve deeper. If I went to the streets of New York and I asked someone if that homeless man on the corner is more literate than Thomas Edison, the answer would be, unequivocally, no. It seems obvious enough. Edison paved the way for modern electricity, while the other has probably never been to college. However, Edison also electrocuted an elephant to make the point that his DC system of electricity was better than Tesla’s AC system. Is that an act of someone who is literate?
The problem lies in the idea that literacy can be measured empirically. We’ve reduced it down to the simple system that whoever has had the most schooling is the one who is the most accomplished. What we continue to neglect is the fact that there are many other forms of intelligence that are just as, if not more, valuable than literacy as we have defined it. Physical literacy, emotional literacy, religious literacy, and social literacy, amongst others, are all just as, if not more, important than our precious university degrees. What good is that piece of paper when it’s tainted by the sabotage of fellow students? What good is it if our ethics are sacrificed in the process? I’ve seen many first generation Americans blame this mentality on the culture of their countries back home, and while this does play a factor, it is merely a symptom of a greater crisis.
We, in general, have become increasingly obsessed with becoming extraordinary rather than achieving excellence. Our need to conform to others’ standards is stopping us from forming ours. In his Eid Banquet speech, Chaplain Kaiser addressed this problem when he talked about the Tafsir (interpretation) of one surah. He said that competition with others is a stage of the life of an average individual, but eventually they move on. Nowadays, the majority of people don’t seem to be growing out it. We’ve become dependent on our peers’ perception of us, rather than our own perception of ourselves. In the time when Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab was the Caliph, a man came up to Umar and said that a poet insulted him. When Umar asked what he said, the man said that the poet claimed that he lived his life solely for achievement. That was an insult! An insult! But now, in universities across America and Europe, a culture has been made such that people don’t have any purpose to study other than to avoid failure as defined by social norms. The threat of societal failure has crippled us to the point where we don’t find fulfillment in our achievements unless we think we’re better than those around us. We can’t achieve true literacy when it’s defined by someone else.
Although this problem is inherently personal, the effects are far-reaching. Since we are increasingly focused on the tangible, we increasingly neglect the intangible. Few people nowadays notice how much screen time they’re getting every day and even fewer notice its effects. As people scroll down their Facebook feeds, they are constantly exposed to numerous images and videos per minute. We are satisfactorily entertained in the span of a few minutes, and all at the touch of a smartphone. As a result of such constant stimulation, we grow to expect that such entertainment constantly and, as a result, our attention spans decrease. On the other hand, with a decline in reading books and the simplification of their texts , there is a more sinister consequence of this phenomenon. As our use of social media increases, our lives slowly start revolving around our cyber identity. We reminiscence about the past when Facebook tells us we have a “memory” to look back on, a memory that we deemed worthy of sharing on social media. We even start to measure how long a friendship has lasted based on how long we’ve been “Facebook friends”. Slowly, but surely, we are neglecting personal reflection, one on one communication, and even the value of boredom. These uniquely human, intricate, and beautiful qualities are being lost, all because of a complex arrangement of a few resistors and capacitors.
Of course, when there is a handicap, there are those who try to take advantage of it. The radio is a prime example. After we listen to the nonsensical, basic songs about sex and drugs that play on the stations, corporations get full use of our distraction. While I was driving one day, I noticed one Papa John’s commercial that stood out. After listening to a song filled with incomprehensible mumbles, I was greeted with an enthusiastic voice saying “Football. What do you think of when you hear the word “football”? Well, you should be thinking of Papa Johns’ football special! Get a medium one topping pizza for just $6.99 every Sunday Night at your local Papa Johns. Order this Sunday and also get a free drink of your choice! Now let’s try this again. Football. What do you think of when you hear the word football? Papa Johns. **” It took me a few minutes to realize that this was a poor attempt at brainwashing. But although it was a poor attempt, the ad would not have aired if it wasn’t going to work. After listening to the advert, every time an idle listener would hear the word football, they would think, however briefly, about Papa Johns. But although this was shameless, the fact that we are taken advantage of so shamelessly is telling of how far we have fallen to submit to our base desires.
Don’t fall for this façade. As the Qur’an says, “Iqra”. Read. Become educated. Continuously develop your knowledge, and as you do so, don’t develop arrogance. Teach others; not for the sake of impressing them, but for the sake of achieving a greater level of satisfaction. Don’t let this age of information continue to be an age of ignorance.
**The ad is not quoted exactly. But the only parts that may be inaccurate are the details of the deal. The repetition of the word football is accurate.
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
Disclaimer: The following is an expression of my thoughts and feelings pertaining problems with the society and mentalities that I am surrounded by. The following in no way is what Islam preaches and should not be taken as a representation of the religion.
I am good Muslim girl.
I wear long skirts and drappy scarves.
It’s hard to run fast in this skirt, but that’s okay. I don’t need to run fast anyway
I am good Muslim girl.
I don’t draw attention to myself, whether it be sexual or me putting my foot down. It doesn’t matter, because all attention is bad attention, even if it means clipping my tongue and feeding it to the birds.
That’s okay, I don’t use my voice anyway.
I am good Muslim girl.
I don’t laugh loud. If I think something is funny, no one will know. In fact, if I think anything at all, no one will know. That’s okay. The only important trait about me is my face and body and how I chose to cloth it. Not anything else, because that would be silly.
I am good Muslim girl.
I don’t look for men for a marriage myself. That would inappropriate. But I also accept my parents rule to get married by age 20. It’s okay. Men will look at me… Except they can’t notice me, because that would bring attention to me and attention is bad. So maybe, I will look for them? But no, I can’t. That not socially acceptable, a women take her life into her own hands. Absolutely outrageous.
I am good Muslim girl.
I will get an education and fill out the any degree of my parent’s choosing. I will struggle to get good grades, stay up nights studying, and finish with perfect GPA. But I will also marry a stranger literally fresh of the boat, and will continue to use my hard earned degreed as a nice paper weight. It’s okay. I only got that education to please everyone except me.
I am good Muslim girl.
I will continue to make my hijab a 6th pillar of Islam, justifying to the entire world why I wear it. Because it is the world’s right to question and prod at me endlessly. I continue to stand smiling and silent, too scared to utter a word of protest. That would draw attention and attention is bad. That would displease the strangers around me that have more of a say in my life than myself. To hear the thoughts raging across my eyes with such energy it burns if I don’t blink them away fast enough. Threatens to take away from sight all together. But it’s okay, I don’t need thoughts or sight. I have no use for them. They would only displease. The thoughts would boil over, gushing out of eyes in the form of liquid wisdom. Only to be wiped away, forgot almost instantly, never seen. never hear. Never uttered from my mouth. For my mouth is not a tool to be used but just an adornment with a perfect Cupid bow to add to the aesthetics of my face.
My face. My only feature deemed important enough to nurture.
And by nurture, I mean chain my self esteem to. my self worth too.
By nurture I mean, raise an unhealthy obsession with being beautiful.
But as a women, that’s all I should achieve to be. Beautiful.
As a women, I am
Nothing more than my face.
I apologize. I let the Truth slip. I mean my thoughts. I mean… What did I mean?
I’m sorry, is it already forgotten?
I am good Muslim girl.
By Kausar Ahmed
I remember crying my eyes out one night because a kid that I knew when I was younger was killed. I remember crying one night because I was so fed up with everything going on around me, that all I could do was cry. I remember crying because I felt so useless to everyone around me. I remember crying once, just to cry. Sometimes you get to that point where you feel that no matter how many people you confide in, no matter how much great advice you receive, no one gets what you are going through. Over and over again you get to that stage where you have to step back and assess your life. Am I doing things right? Am I surrounded by good people? Am I doing everything I can to make sure Allah (SWT) is happy with me? Have I reached my potential? What is my potential? You’ll sit there and try to figure things out but nothing will make sense. You’ll think about it for days, maybe weeks, while still floating through life. Still smiling when you see your friends. Still going to classes. Still saying that everything is okay. Still making an effort to push through. Then one day, you happen to be all alone and the only companion you have are your feelings. Suddenly, there is a wave of sadness that hits you. Next thing you know, you’re crying your eyes out and can’t stop.
The most beautiful thing about the whole situation is that while you’re crying, there is a voice in your head that tells you to talk to Allah (SWT) about how you’re feeling. Some of us ignore that voice and convince ourselves that He isn’t what we need right now. But then there are some of us who hear that voice so loudly in our hearts, that we drop down on our prayer mat and say just one phrase, “Ya Allah!” and we continue to cry without explaining anything to Him or saying one of the many duas that already exist. That phrase may not seem like much at first but can you imagine the blessings you got by just calling out to Him? Can you imagine that even before you hit the mat, that Allah (SWT) was waiting for you to call out to Him? That He wants to help us and knows all the solutions to our problems? Yet, we don’t think about any of that sometimes. Most times we are so caught up in our feelings that we are quick to complain to others and completely disregard the fact that someone already knows what we are going through without any explanation.
By Allah (SWT) already knowing what our issues are, He is providing us with a quicker way to get through our feelings and to rise above the situation we are in. We tend to look at complaining about our issues or just hashing out our thoughts as a negative thing. However, you achieve two things when you tell Him how you feel: One, you make yourself feel better because you feel less of a weight on your shoulders and two, you gain a closer relationship with Him. Anything that brings you closer to Allah (SWT) is a good thing, even if it is small. So I say, bring all your complaints to the table and express it to Him sincerely. Talk for hours on end if you have to. Afterwards, if you feel like talking to someone will help you find a solution then do that too. Just don’t be afraid to cry to Allah (SWT). He’ll always be there no matter what you’re going through. His love for you is great, you just have to be willing to embrace that love.
Allah (SWT) says: “Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.” [Hadith Qudsi]
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Oh Turner of Hearts, grant me the power to resist
To Resist the change that surrounds me
Change, like the death of trees during the fall,
Leaving nothing but carcasses behind.
Oh Turner of Hearts, help me resist
With the same fire as those who resist oppression
With the same zeal as those who resist injustice
For change is my injustice.
For change is my oppressor.
But Oh Turner of Hearts! I cannot help
But see the beauty of the red leaves
As they quietly fall, almost in rhythm
Leaving nothing but carcasses.
Oh Turner of Hearts! I see
That although the color leaves the tree,
color now graces the trail.
Perhaps change is not injustice.
Perhaps change is not my oppressor.
Oh Turner of Hearts! Help me resist
Resist the urge to resist
Help me resist through letting go
Resist through patience,
For patience is sometimes
The best resistance.