By Mahmud Helal
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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
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
College has been a transformative experience for me. I entered as a slightly awkward and extremely enthusiastic first-year, ready to tackle what I was told repeatedly would be the best four years of my life. Four surprisingly quick and extremely unique years later, I would like to write a response to all the aunties, family members and distant friends who can’t help but continuously remind me that the best four years of my life are over. For all you nay-sayers, here are my Top 10 Reasons why College will not be the best four years of my life:
1. It’s not all downhill from here. And seriously, who even says that?!
2. You’re escaping the Rutgers screw- need I say more?
3. In the real world, there’s no Webreg screwing you over. Now you have no reason to throw your laptop across the room!
4. Post-graduation life (hopefully) is free of roommates who steal your last granola bar or take hour long showers.
5. The lack of tuition should save you just about enough money that you’ll no longer feel like you’re living a series of National Treasure trying to locate free food on campus.
6. All nighters. Please raise your hand if you’re going to miss staying up till 4 am working on a paper that numbs your brain, until you give up and increase the font size and shift margins and pray that your professor won’t notice.
7. Lack of tuition = more money = no more cheap and gross coffee! Spend that money where it matters most.
8. Group projects. Enough said.
9.The uncomfortable feeling of being surrounded by a (what feels like) a million bodies on a crowded LX.
In all seriousness, most of us seniors are only slightly coming terms with the fact that these incredible four years are ending. It’s a sad reality that we have to accept, but inshAllah these four years will not be the best four years of our lives. These four years have been incredible and unforgettable, but they’re going to serve as the means to a greater and more successful future. Here’s to 4 amazing years, and inshAllah many more.
The time has come. Super Bowl 50 will be upon us this Sunday February 7th at 6:30 and boy does this matchup have a lot of intrigue. Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning, essentially the new vs. the old “Sheriff”. WIll Peyton be able to survive the stifling Carolina defense? Will Cam evolve into the masterful running, athletic QB we have not seen since Michael Vick in his prime? Can Josh Norman shut down Demaryius Thomas? How many interceptions will Luke Kuechly have? Can Cam run over a Broncos defense lead by Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, and Sylvester Williams? There are so many questions that need answering and I am gonna answer them
Cam Newton vs. Peyton Manning?
Old generation vs. New generation. In what very well be Peyton Manning’s last game this game should have some real intrigue. But let’s get into this All-Star QB matchup.
Peyton clearly is not his old same stuff, largely due to injuries. This season he only had 9 TD’s and a whopping 17 interceptions to go along with a 59.8% completion percentage in 10 games. Extremely un-Peyton like. And at times against the Steelers, he looked incredibly uncomfortable against the defense. It was the Broncos defense that really led them as the Broncos were actually down for most of that game. Same with New England. In the 2 playoff games against them, his completion percentage was only 55.1% and boasts a QBR of just 34.5. Not very good. BUT. This is Peyton Manning we are talking about. A guy who has been their (third super bowl) and won a ring to go along with 26 playoff games. The experience is clearly there. He is a clutch QB that when hot, defenses will be begging to get off the field. If he can find the fountain of youth the Broncos will have a chance, but they gotta stop this next guy.
Cam Newton has unquestionably been the NFL’s MVP leading the Panthers to an incredible 15-1 record that was only a TD against the Falcons away from 16-0. This guy is an athletic freak. His QB skills were on point with 35 TD’s and just 14 interceptions this season. But it’s his running ability that makes him the biggest dual-threat in the game. He had 636 yards with an average of 4.8 yards per carry. These are Michael Vick in his prime numbers. And in the playoffs, he’s only gotten better. A QBR of 84.0 and a completion percentage of 70% in two playoff games that included a whooping of the 13-3, #2 seed Cardinals 49-15. He has been beyond impressive especially with the receiver talent he has had to work with. He does not exactly have a Pro Bowl receiver. He’s been able to do a lot with less and that’s why he’s been so special leading the Panthers to a #2 ranking in offensive efficiency. They may not be flashy, but they are efficient and Cam is a huge reason.
Advantage: Cam Newton, Panthers
Denver Offense vs. Carolina Defense
This is the main match-up that can really decide the game. Looking at what Peyton has, his receiver talent exceeds that of the Panthers boasting the likes of Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Owen Daniels, and Vernon Davis. His running back play of Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson has been very solid. Neither of them are 1,000 yard rushers, but they get the job done. Peyton too can turn a nobody into a somebody. Peyton personally makes a wide receiver’s career. However, it is not without flaw. The O-line does have injuries most notably Ryan Clady, an all Pro-Bowler that protects Peyton’s blindside he is out. Their overall offensive efficiency was ranked 23rd overall. The Broncos’ offense is one of the NFL’s worst red zone units (47.7 percent conversion rate, 28th overall). Denver’s QBs (Manning and Osweiler) threw just 13 TDs inside the 20 this season, compared with a league-high 26 in 2014. They’ll face a Carolina defense that’s stout in the red zone (52.5 percent, 10th overall) and overall allowed opponents to score on just 26.5 percent of drives, the lowest rate in the NFL. Demaryius Thomas, a guy who had 1,304 yards in the regular season has been nowhere to be found in the playoffs gaining only 52 yards and 0 TD’s in 2 games. He will be facing Josh Norman, who is widely considered as of now the best CB in football. Good luck. But this is the Broncos and this is Peyton Manning. When hot, this offense can be explosive like in 2013 when they scored a record-breaking 606 points in the regular season with Peyton having 55 TD’s (an NFL record) that season. Most of the guys from that team are still there. This is a big-play offense that should not be overlooked. The Broncos may not have been good offensively, but Peyton was injured. Imagine him healthy. But the Broncos will have their hands full.
This Panthers defense can be argued as the best in the NFL and the hardest the Broncos will face all season. Boasting an overall #2 defensive efficiency ranking this defense is absolutely vicious. Lead by the defensive MVP Luke Kuechly, who you can argue is just as important as Cam, Thomas Davis, Josh Norman, Cortland Finnegan, Kurt Coleman, and the never aging Roman Harper, this defense has made offenses suffer. Just ask the Cardinals who only mustered 15 points and the Panther defense had an incredible 6 takeaways from a team that many considered to be a well-rounded team in the Cardinals. So much for that. Josh Norman has widely been in the news for getting the better of the likes of DeAndre Hopkins,, Dez Bryant, Allen Robinson and who can forget about Odell Beckham…and I’m a Giants fan. Norman has shut his receivers down and has rightfully backed up his talk. With Thomas not producing for the Broncos this playoffs, Norman is sure to shut him down too. I do expect it. Then, there’s Luke Kuechly. This is guys is really good. So good, that as a LB, he already has 2 interceptions, in the playoffs. He is the defensive leader of this team leading in tackles with 118. He is probably the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. These are only 2 of the many Panther names The opponent QBR against them is 32.3, very similar to Peyton’s QBR. Peyton needs a big time and not like his old self if he want to beat this team.
Advantage: Panthers Defense
Carolina Offense vs. Denver Defense
Like I said before, Cam has turned a no name receiving corps outside of TE Greg Olsen, into an incredibly efficient offense, ranking #2 overall in offense. They also boast the #2 rushing offense in terms of yards lead by Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and yes, the QB Cam Newton with 2,282 yards this season. This is a dual-threat offense where there is balance between pass and run. On pass, be wary of Greg Olsen who had 1,104 yards this season and 190 yards in 2 playoff games. He is the go-to target for Cam Newton. Ted Ginn and Jerricho Cotchery are targets as well. Ginn is much better served in special teams. Cam Newton threw 68 passes of 21 yards or more this season, tied for the third most overall. And Newton torches blitzing defenses. 23.3 percent of Newton’s completions vs. the blitz went for 20 yards or more, compared with just 13.9 percent when defenses didn’t bring heat. And Denver is third overall in QBR allowed when they blitz, but Cam can torch the blitz which is why he is such a threat. His QBR vs. the blitz is 80.4, good for 7th in the league. He can perform under pressure. And the O-line of Oher, Norwell, Kalil, Turner, and Remmers have been spectacular and a huge reason why the run game is so good. Like I said before, the names are not flashy, but they are efficient and a dual-threat, which makes them so lethal.
However, as good as the Panthers are on offense, their was only one team that was above the Panthers in defensive efficiency, and that what the Denver Broncos ranked #1 overall. This is the hardest defense the Panthers will face and for good reason. DC Wade Phillips has done an unbelievable job boasting the best defense in the NFL with the likes of Demarcus Ware, the sack happy Von Miller, Aqib Talib, a CB who can also argue he’s the best, Chris Harris JR. Danny Trevathan, and T.J. Ward to name a few. If you thought the Panthers LBs were good, wait till you see the Broncos of Ware, Miller, Trevathan, and Brandon Marshall (no not the WR). This defense gets the sacks. 52 in the regular season leading the NFL with Von Miller accounting for 11 of them. Oh speaking of Miller his 2.5 sacks in the playoffs are third overall in the playoffs. Cam might be good against the blitz, but Cam has not played a defense that can get to the QB like this. Total Defense, Denver was #1 in the regular season with only 4,530 yards. And in coverage this team is fantastic boasting #1 in overall passing yards and receiving yards in all of the NFL. They also had the most interceptions in the NFL with 23. Lots of #1 overall ranking for this defense As good as the Panthers offense is, they have not faced played a defense as widely touted and physical as this one. They will have their hands full.
Advantage: Denver defense
I fully expect this to be a defensive battle in the end. As good as Cam and Peyton are, the defenses they both have will really decide the game. It can also be dependent on who keeps the defense off the field better. With Cam and that Panthers offense having a dual-threat offense and we do not know what Peyton will bring, as much as anyone would love to see “The Sheriff” win this game that could possibly be his last, the Panthers offense is such a dual-threat and hard to contain along with their defense they should come out on top.
Panthers: 23, Broncos: 14
I got a couple things to ask you this time around. I know they’re a bit trivial, and as much as people say I shouldn’t feel embarrassed of my du’as, I kinda am. But don’t mind me. Forgive my rambling thoughts.
So I assume you noticed my lack of alarm clock for Fajr. I read online that there are vastly superior benefits from waking up from a natural slumber rather than blaring alarm clocks. I am a night owl, so after many trials and experiments I have come to the conclusion that all I need is a little nudge on the shoulder to help me up. You can do that for me, right?
Also, can you help me find my Qur’an? I can’t remember the last time I read Arabic. All these shiny, new, and bland as beans textbooks took over the bookshelf and they’ve commandeered an assault on the veteran books that have made their home here. I think the invaders took my Qur’an hostage because I can’t find the worn text anywhere.
And there’s gotta be something wrong with my prayer rug. It’s been in the corner over there for ages and makes my allergies act up when I open it. I haven’t done that in a while, actually. But I can’t pray with all this dust that’s settled in the fibers. Tell them to make their home elsewhere.
Oh, sorry for fidgeting. My mom says to keep focused when talking to God but this scarf on my head feels like it’ll fall off at any time. There was this technique someone taught me but it just… slipped my mind.
I guess a lot of important things have fallen out of my memory, haven’t they?
Surah Fussilat, Ayah 33
Translation: ” And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah”
By Rais Ahmed
As we commence the New Year, there is a glimmer of hope for spring. After this weekend’s blizzard, spring seems even further away. It’s hard to remember that spring is actually awakening when we can’t even feel our toes. But inshallah we must remember to have patience. The Quran states:
Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere. (Chapter 2, Verse 153)
We must remember to have sabr (patience) with everything and remember that Allah (SWT) does not test us with anything we cannot handle. With MSA’s Spring Awakening event and these 3 smoothie recipes, you will have the patience when remembering what it was like to embrace a spring breeze.
A good way to say good morning. Bananas are packed with vitamins, energy, and potassium.
2 Banana, Sliced
1 Cup Blueberries
2 Dates, pitted
½ Cup Yogurt
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Honey, to taste
Place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
Pour into glasses and serve.
Raspberry & Strawberry Smoothie
Raspberries and Strawberries are a good source of potassium and vitamin C. Raspberries have been credited to help with healing processes.
1/3 Cup Raspberries
½ Cup Strawberries, halved
1 Cup Yogurt
1 Cup Milk (or Almond Milk)
2-3 Tbsp Honey, to taste
Press the raspberries through a strainer into a bowl using the back of a spoon. Discard the seeds in the strainer.
Put the raspberry puree, strawberries yogurt, honey and milk into a blender. Process until smooth and combined then pour into glasses and serve.
Pineapple and papaya are rich in anti-oxidants and contain digestive system stimulating enzymes
1 Cup Diced Papayas (or mangos if papayas aren’t your thing)
½ Cup Diced Pineapples
2/3 Cup Milk
1 ¾ Cup Yogurt
2 Pitted Dates, to taste (or Honey)
Place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
Pour into glasses and serve.
By Sadia Salman
How do you explain patience to an impatient soul?
Is it like the persistent waves that hit the shore?
Or is it like a mother’s forgiveness to the ones she bore?
Unanswered prayers and agony fill your heart,
And doubts of ever achieving your goals depress you.
For now, the world may seem so very cold.
How can I be left so alone?
How do you explain patience to an impatient soul?
Is it like the messenger who preached a thousand years?
Or is it like an unwed maiden waiting for her prince?
Even after she had four kids?
To the single brother who works for a house full of dreams,
To the single mother who prays for a house full of hope,
To the children who cry for a house unoccupied by a foreign regime,
To the worshipper who worships for a house in paradise.
How do you explain patience to an impatient soul?
By Sara Zaimi
I can’t stop thinking about it. The concept of the “truth” is something I’ve struggled to understand for some time now. The truth is the truth is the truth is the truth. It’s simple—but is it really that simple? I think life would be a lot easier if it was, but as experience goes to show, life doesn’t work that way.
I heard a quote by some author—Gustave Flaubert, whoever that is—once that read, “There is no truth, only perception.” And it sounds insightful and philosophical but after having the concept in the back of my mind for some time, I’ve decided I don’t completely believe it. I’d say there is always truth, but it is more often altered by perception. Maybe I just don’t want to admit that everything is perception, but I’d like to believe that there are things I know correctly as truth or things that I can say I’ve perceived correctly. But I digress.
So now we have truth, and perception. There is the truth behind the way someone is, the way something is, why something has happened, etc. Some people might know the truth, and some people might not. Honestly, maybe only Allah (swa) knows the absolute truth. Whatever it is, there is some underlying right and wrong whether we know it or not. Then there is perception. Someone who knows all the details of the story probably perceives it more correctly than someone who doesn’t know the details. While it’s true that we might perceive something a certain way, it’s not necessarily true that our perception is correct. But it’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking our perception is correct, which is a problem. Not everything is as simple as it seems to people on the outside, and this paves the way for backbiting and gossip. There are so many proofs from the Quran and Hadith that tell us backbiting and gossip are very serious and should be stayed away from:
Behold, you received it on your tongues, and said out of your mouths things which you had no knowledge; and you thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the sight of God [Quran 24: 15]
O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is accepting of repentance and Merciful. [Quran 49:12)
The Prophet (Sallallahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) is also reported to have said: “Shall I tell you about the most evil ones from amongst you?” They said, “Of course.” He said, “Those who go around with Nameemah [gossip]. They make enmity between friends and they seek problems for the innocent.” [Ahmad and al-Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad]
Ibn Abbas (Radhiallahu `Anhu) said: “Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) was passing by two graves and said, ‘They (the dead laying in these graves) are being tortured not for a major (sin), but in fact, it is a minor (sin). One of them used to carry Nameemah [gossip] and the other didn’t save himself from being soiled by his urine.'” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
Why is gossip regarded so seriously in the eyes of Allah (swa)? He knows best, and it is not up to us to question His wisdom or take it lightly. In my 21 years living this life, it is clear to me that if anything, perhaps gossip is warned against because of the damage it can do to the person being discussed—damage that might not be warranted. Telling your friends in passing about a story you heard might not seem significant in impact, but when the number of people hearing and manipulating that story grows exponentially, it makes all the difference in the world—and you took part in it. The Prophet Salallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam said: “None of you will believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” [Bukhari & Muslim]. So before you get involved in the transmission of a rumor that might ruin someone’s reputation, think about whether it is something you would want people saying about you, if you were in their place. Above all else, remember that not everything you hear from people is true—stories are shaped by perception and agendas and feelings that aren’t always justifiable. Think about what you might not know of the situation, and unless you can verify whatever you’ve heard, keep it to yourself. And even if it is something you can verify, that doesn’t mean you should share it with others. Use your judgment—love for your brother what you love for yourself. Abu Hurairah (Radhiallahu `anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak what is good or be silent.” (Muslim)
From what I’ve seen, it is so easy to spread a juicy, jaw-dropping rumor, and ten times harder to inform people of the truth or clear up that rumor. We experience this everyday living in a world plagued by ignorance regarding our beloved religion. We want so badly for people to let go of the misconceptions and misunderstandings they have of us, and our beliefs and practices, but are we ready to do that for each other?
May Allah protect us from falsehood—backbiting, slander, and malicious gossip—and increase the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Islam, especially the ones in the #MSAfamily.
Back to my musings, I can’t help but wonder how many reputations and relationships have been ruined because of the lies people tell and the rumors that are spread based on false perception. I wonder how many people have been wronged and are fighting to tell their story, but have no voice. I think about all the lies I might have been told in the distance past, and I can’t really say they matter anymore—so will anything now matter five years from now? Probably not. If it won’t matter to us in this life, will we care at all in the next? Do we ever get to find out the truth about all the lies that are told—by people, politicians, professionals, and the like? I don’t know about the next life but I know about this one.
The truth about the truth is that in this life, you don’t always get to know the truth—maybe because it doesn’t concern you, maybe because it’s complicated, maybe because this is part of Allah’s plan—whatever the reason, it is not our place to talk about what we know nothing about.
By Umama Ahmed
Before I answer that, you know what’s annoying? Trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving celebrations but instead getting stuck on a three-hour long train ride that’s been delayed an extra half hour lugging around your monster of a suitcase, all the while hoping you don’t collapse from exhaustion in the middle of Grand Central. Trains are probably the most energy-sucking pieces of metal I’ve seen since my demanding toddler of a laptop.
And let’s not stop there: who’s to say you’re gonna catch a break when you finally do reach home from your incredibly long journey? Despite the fact that I’ve been MIA in college for over a month I do solemnly swear that my mom is gonna chase me around with a broom ordering me around like some servant that comes around to the house only on the holidays; here’s Hira, giving you an (un)willing helping hand every month, at your service!
And after it seems all is said and done and you think you can finally relax, you receive the news to get ready because we’re going over to auntie something-or-other’s house to exchange pleasantries “in the spirit of Thanksgiving.” Which entails making stilted polite conversation with that one (or more) family friend who spilled his drink on your favorite clothes not once but on two separate occasions, so now it’s awkward to even be in the same room as him, but you do anyway because the feeling of guilt and pity (and your looming mother) overpowers your discomfort.
But you know what?
Even as my mother is yelling at me to move my lazy behind into gear as I speedily type this out I am thankful for every single thing, from the smallest to the glaringly obvious: to the mediocre Pakistani food, to my annoying brother who unabashedly pokes fun at me at every opportunity, to my cats cuddling with me on the bed, I’m surrounded by genuine warmth – and I’m not just talking about the blankets.
I see stuff in a new light. Before, I didn’t know just how much I couldn’t wait to get out of this house. But now that I’ve been away…
I’m thankful for everything I’ve taken for granted.
By Hira Shahbaz
It consumes you
Engulfs your mind
Your mind becomes captive
Prisoner to the demon clenching to your thoughts
And you know that they know
And you know that they can tell
But shh, don’t talk about it.
You tell them, you try to explain
And soon, they’re picking at your pieces,
cast aside as damaged goods on a clearance rack
This button, that lever,
they say it’s so simple.
Smile, they say
And you try to tell them,
that your face might be stuck in a perpetual state of numb
Smile, is a foreign word,
whose syllables you’ve forgotten how to pronounce.
Get up and live, they say
As if you haven’t yet explained that….you can’t.
That you can’t.
That breaths feel like boulders on your chest,
steps like mountains to climb.
So you say these things,
but you know that they know
And you know that they can tell
But shh, don’t talk about it.
After all, what would you think?
After all, what would you think?
Your uncle, and your aunt’s brother third cousin,
and the random aunty in the masjid.
Your forth cousin twice removed is surely important.
Their opinions clearly matter more than the importance of your ability to speak openly.
So day in, and day out
You wear your mask
You remind yourself, one step, another step, one step.
All the while feeling like they are dragging along.
Because you are flesh
Wound after wound
Plunged deep, far
You are wound
Numb to the pain of daily struggle
Because really, you know that they know
And you know that they can tell
But shh, you must never speak about it.
By Inayah Lakhani
Though omnipresent force, some call it weak.
Soft and hard, could it be both false and true?
Some say it’s no more than a rosy cheek:
Why, then, is a flower so hard to subdue?
Is it a power only in its action?
No, for it lives beyond physical border,
A long journey, sublating mere attraction,
A deep wound, needing absence of order.
From the tall cradle to the deep earthy bed,
Its presence will continue to live on:
Among the clash of steel it remains undead,
In a world of fire, it has always shone.
Yes, its name is that which makes one insane:
My fond heart, is its pleasure worth its pain?
By Hasan Habib
By Michael Chuang
Then they found one of Our servants whom We blessed with mercy from Us and whom We gave knowledge, a knowledge from Our own. (65) Musa said to him, “May I have your company so that you teach me some of the rightful knowledge you have been given.” (66) He said, “You can never bear with me patiently. (67) And how would you keep patient over something your comprehension cannot grasp?” (68) He (Musa) said, “You will find me patient, if Allah wills, and I shall not disobey any order from you.” (69) He said, “Well, if you follow me, do not ask me about anything unless I myself start telling you about it.” (70) So, they both moved ahead, until when they boarded a boat, he sliced it (by removing one of its planks). He (Musa) said, “Did you slice it to drown its people? In fact, you have done a terrible act.” (71) He said, “Did I not say that you can never bear with me patiently?” (72) He (Musa) said, “Do not hold me punishable for what I forgot, and do not make my course too difficult for me.” (73) So, they moved ahead until when they met a boy, he killed him (the boy). He (Musa) said, “Did you kill an innocent soul while he did not kill anyone? You have committed a heinous act indeed.” (74) He said, “Did I not tell you that you can never bear with me patiently?” (75) He (Musa) said, “If I ask you about something after this, do not allow me your company. You have now reached a point where you have a valid excuse (to part with me) from my own side. “ (76) Then, they moved ahead until they came to the people of a town; they asked its people for food, and they refused to host them. Then, they found there a wall tending to fall down. So he (Khidr) set it right. He (Musa) said, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.” (77) He said, “Here is the point of parting ways between me and you. I shall now explain to you the reality of things about which you could not remain patient. (78) As for the boat, it belonged to some poor people who worked at sea. So I wanted to make it defective, as there was a king across them who used to usurp every boat by force. (79) As for the boy, his parents were believers. We apprehended that he would impose rebellion and infidelity upon them. (80) We, therefore, wished that their Lord would replace him with someone better than him in piety, and more akin to affection. (81) As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was a treasure beneath it belonging to them, and their father was a pious man. So your Lord willed that they should reach their maturity and dig out their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. I did not do it on my own accord. This is the reality of things about which you could not remain patient.” (82). [18: 65-82]
What is knowledge? Take one philosophy course (almost any course) and you will be presented with about 1000+ theories on Epistemology– what knowledge is, how we acquire it, why we acquire it, what we do with it, and what it all means in the grand scheme of things. When I’m in class it seems that there are a plethora of theories, and once we’ve touched based on even one of them, we jump to the next– occasionally come back to some previous ones–accept them or challenge them, and the cycle continues. Let’s not forget the theories that a philosopher might create just to refute a theory he/she doesn’t like. But I love it. I love my philosophy classes and I love that I can learn those 1000+ theories and the fact will always remain- Allah is the first and the last.
“He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the Knower of hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things.” [57:3]
Of course as Muslims we have to understand that it is by Allah’s mercy that He has granted us the Qur’an as guidance and so that we can understand the reality of this world. It is also by His mercy that such profound information is clarified in one book. So how can we use the Qur’an to understand Epistemology? To begin, Allah reminds us that only He is the all-aware and all-knowing. Allah describes Himself with many names that are only reserved for Him, especially in regards to knowledge. Even in the case of Khidr (AS), he himself states that the knowledge and wisdom bestowed upon him was all from Allah. It is very clear that as the creation we are limited and He is limitless.
In philosophy, when we talk about epistemology, it often follows that we also talk about intuitions and beliefs. Why do we hold certain intuitions and are they a reliable source of information? If we have the correct information but come to an incorrect conclusion in virtue of that information, does it still count as having a true belief? Philosophers have tried to tackle these questions by considering certain scenarios, such as the Gettier cases and thought experiments. Gettier cases are hypothetical scenarios that were made to appeal to our understanding of knowledge and true beliefs. A super simplified version of a Gettier Case can be understood in the case that Smith knows that Jones always drives a Ford so Smith believes that Jones owns a Ford. However Jones is currently renting a Ford (unbeknown to Smith) – so would that count as Smith having the justified belief that Jones owns a Ford? Now to put a twist on things, thought experiments also constitute of hypothetical situations that examine how knowledge plays a role in moral judgment which then have consequences that are manifested in action. For example, there is a situation where one must to choose between letting a trolley (train) kill X number of people on a track or purposely killing 1 person to spare the others. There are more versions of this case that consider how varying indirect/direct responsibility for the killing would have an effect on one’s decision. For both Gettier Cases and Thought Experiments, many philosophers have tried to reconcile different theories of beliefs and intuitions to come to some sort of conclusion about knowledge.
Without going into further discussion about such cases, we can rewind and come back to the story of Musa and Khidr (AS)- to appeal to intuitions and beliefs. Even though Musa (AS) was a prophet, in this event we see how he was bound by his own intuitions, which prevented him from seeing the wisdom behind the actions of Khidr (AS). Again, Musa AS is a prophet and because of that him and his knowledge are still held to a high regard, however even as a noble prophet, Allah is showing us something extremely profound in regards to epistemology. It is He who holds all the knowledge of the seen and unseen and it is He who grants guidance and wisdom to whom He wills. In this case He granted Khidr knowledge and wisdom from Himself, which is the only way that Khidr was able to take the action that he did. This story reflects greatly on the trials that we will face in our life. We as the creation have limited capacities by nature. Nobody will deny this; nobody will deny that humans although the intelligent species- have limited and many times imperfect perception. We are able to make certain moral judgments and filter our own actions accordingly but every so often we will find that what we intuit to be “bad” may actually be beneficial and what we intuit to be “good” may actually be detrimental.
Again, this is largely my own reconciliation of what I learn everyday with what Allah tells us in the Qur’an. Of course the Qur’an will always take precedence over anything I learn and if there is any lesson that I would like to share from this reflection, it is that no matter how much knowledge we think we have or how intelligent we think we are, Allah is the most knowledgeable, the most wise, and only He is perfect. Any mistakes that we make are a product of our own imperfections and all success is only from Allah. We must ask Him for guidance especially in times of hardships when our intuitions are playing against us.
P.S. I am also not a Philosopher, but whatever. Who in philosophy even is?
By Abyaz Uppal
Every November, a yearly reminder comes through the form of Thanksgiving. People sit around tables saying their thanks for everything and anything. As usual, someone must come in and interrupt to say that they should be thankful not just this one day but everyday of the year. Mostly, we roll our eyes and take their remark with the same passivity as if one’s mom told him or her to clean his or her room. In Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah (SWT) says, “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me” (2:152). But in those moments we forget that it is one of our duties and purposes to be thankful. We should always remind ourselves that Allah (SWT) blessed us with all the barakah in our lives. Even through hardships we are able to enjoy having things that others can not even dream of knowing. For every small thing , we need to be grateful that Allah (SWT) bestowed it upon us. It is crucial for us to work on giving thanks with sincerity and piety. So inshallah I ask you to take out a mental pencil and paper while learning from this Sparknotes on giving thanks.
Let’s start off by looking at the Arabic word for thanks or gratitude. The origin of root words in Arabic is always a fascinating subject. The root shukr (شكر) can be understood by looking at a camel. Camels typically populate desert areas which can be barren of food and drink. Even so, if one tests the milk produced by camels, it is of high nutritional value. The milk is rich in proteins and vitamins and can sustain a person throughout the day. (Did you know you can survive a month just drinking camel’s milk?) Camels can go for long times without eating or drinking in desolate areas, yet can produce such rich and nutritious milk. A camel full of milk is known as shakira. By appreciating the barakah of the camel’s milk, one can understand how shukr comes about. The food a camel finds to eat may seem scarce to our well-fed eyes, but it is a feast nonetheless. Acknowledging everything given to it, this animal is able to produce something of high value and share it with others. With this, one can understand the origin of the word shukr.
Shukr is comprised of two manifestations: being grateful (internal) and showing gratitude (external). Internal shukr is the most vital component and resides above external shukr. They are truly appreciating what has been provided and using what is given in a manner that extends the prosperity towards others. Internal shukr should be an establishment of the heart, full and wholehearted in praise and gratitude. If a person does not establish this internal shukr, acts of external shukr are somewhat fruitless and hollow. Therefore we should work on the internal as much as we can.
The external component to shukr is further divided into two components, that of the tongue and limbs. Through the tongue, we pronounce and express our thankfulness verbally. Our limbs should be used to act in benevolence, and spreading our gratitude to others. With a brand-new understanding of internal shukr, we should begin to look for ways to to strengthen our gratitude game.
As always, Allah (SWT) puts many examples on this earth to explain how to practice what is preached. The most perfect example of internal and external shukr is the Prophet (ﷺ). He is the one who is guaranteed paradise over any other individual we have ever heard of. Therefore one may wonder, if he is set for the afterlife, then why did he not sit back and relax? He is the Messenger of Islam, applying the Quran and ways of Allah (SWT) through his daily practices. Yet in Sahih Bukhari it is narrated, “The Prophet (ﷺ) used to stand (in the prayer) or pray till both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) and he said, ‘should I not be a thankful slave.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari 1130)
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مِسْعَرٌ، عَنْ زِيَادٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ الْمُغِيرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ يَقُولُ إِنْ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيَقُومُ لِيُصَلِّيَ حَتَّى تَرِمُ قَدَمَاهُ أَوْ سَاقَاهُ، فَيُقَالُ لَهُ فَيَقُولُ “ أَفَلاَ أَكُونُ عَبْدًا شَكُورًا ”.
Rasulallah (ﷺ) regularly dedicated large potential large portions at his time to private worship and giving thanks. Yet, he also undertook the monumental talk at demonstrating his thanks through public worship. He maintained a leadership role and presented his companions with an ideal template for living in a constant state of shukr. Every action of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) was an act of sincere gratitude: he only spoke kind words and acted considerately, always keeping Allah’s (SWT) name on his tongue. He strove to put forth the right example, spending long nights in emotional prayers, and worrying himself sick over the state of his ummah, despite Allah’s (SWT) guarantee that he would go to Jannah, his sins and mistakes would be forgiven, and his ummah would be successful. Rasulullah (ﷺ) did all he could for his ummah out of the sheer appreciation of what Allah (SWT) had given to him. He was extremely grateful, despite the fact that he had very few worldly possessions and often did not have enough food to eat. His spirituality and levels of gratitude for even the smallest blessings gave him a light and spiritual soul which makes him a pristine example for us to follow.
Our expedition of fully being thankful begins with the 5 pillars of Islam. We stop to remember and thank Allah (SWT) by declaring our belief in the oneness of Allah and his messenger, praying five times a day, fasting Ramadan, giving zakat, and inshallah going for Hajj. Allah makes everything easier on us because as a result of having these pillars, without conscious awareness, we are practicing shukr.
While we strive to perfect our practice of this religion, we may stumble and fall along the way. This is the best opportunity for us to proceed in expressing our gratitude. Sincere tawbah (repentance) brings with it a state of thankfulness that we should all pay attention to. When doing tawbah, we ask Allah to forgive our sins and help us towards the right path. Allah (SWT) has given you the opportunity to understand what is sinful for you. And there is a conscious effort to stay away from that sin. First you are accepting what Allah has decreed as haram for you and then, through extension, accepting what is halal. Appreciation and gratitude for what is halal for us shows Allah (SWT) that we are thankful towards Allah for providing for us. We also are appreciative of the ability to do more good in order to correct any sin we have committed. So try to incorporate more tawbah with gratitude in it throughout your daily routine.
A simple and final way to integrate thankfulness is by smiling. It was narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “When you smile to your brother’s face, it is charity” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1956). This pertains to the external manifestation of shukr. When you smile, you are confirming that even if you are weighed down by the trials and tribulations of the day, you are able to keep a positive attitude. This indicates that you are grateful for what you have. Having a smile on your face affects others around you to being slightly more elevated in spirits. This charity towards others reflects the levels of shukr that are established within an individual. This small act is the one I encourage us all to try and practice. It requires less effort than frowning, so try to get your face in the constant state of smiling so it does not become a task, but rather a habit.
It is important for us to remember Allah (SWT) through our daily struggles, He is the Giver of All and the Most Merciful. I hope this brief look into this life season of giving thanks is enlightening and captivating. I apologize for any mistakes or incorrect information. May Allah (SWT) make the path towards Jannah easy for all of us. Ameen ya rab.
Be yourself and never forget that. There will be people out there that will try to shoot you down. There will be people that are jealous of you, despise you, or even fear you. Fear you in that they think you could be a problem so they will try to take you down. Don’t let these people take you down. The same goes to the fakes and the people who aren’t interested in getting to know you because of your personality and who you are. Don’t let these people take you down either. If it is anything it is these people that can help you. Help you determine who is your friend and who isn’t. Determine if I should really pursue that friendship or not. Don’t let any of these people change who you are as an individual. These douchebags, sassy, jealous people will be there to try to shoot you down. But you shouldn’t let these people change who you are as a person and your integrity. Another type are the ones who try to force their own beliefs down your throat, almost suffocating you. You have the right to agree but you also have the right to disagree on things, including this blog. NO ONE should feel alienated because one has a belief that another does not have. Why you ask?
Because at the end of the day these people are meaningless. They shouldn’t matter to you. People know who you really are. To those people stick with them. Stick to the people that truly care about you, want to help you, respect you, treat you like a human, the people that are there for you when it matters, the people who want you to be happy. Be with these people and believe me you will know who they are by being yourself. Don’t waste your time with the people who shoot you down. By wasting time I mean putting them into your head. Speaking from experience, putting them and what they did to you in your head does waste your time. Because all you think about is them. It can even clouds your thoughts while you study. They are almost indirectly affecting how you function with daily life and with who you are. They take you away from your roots as an individual. They take you away from your core principles essentially robbing them from you. I do understand that many of us do care about their reputations and you want to make an impression. This can be applied to finding a job or even trying to impress a group of people. However, don’t let your urge to change your reputation change your core beliefs (this includes your religious beliefs) and who you are.
I keep mentioning don’t change who you are. Don’t change your principles I do keep mentioning this. Why is that? Because being yourself is what brings the best out of you. Don’t we all want to be comfortable? We all have ambitious goals and we all want them achieved whether it be via school or enhancing your reputation. Before you can achieve these goals, before you can be comfortable with your surrounding, you need to be comfortable with YOURSELF. This means being who you are, sticking to what you believe in, doing what you want to do without the social, educational or familial pressures that may come your way. Again speaking from experience, being comfortable with one’s self with lead you to the greater path. Path meaning a good social life, better grades, and probably the most important thing of them all, being happy and positive. Even the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) even preached that one must be positive. Why would he himself preach this? Because being positive leads to greater things. And being positive can mean being comfortable with one’s self. Being comfortable builds confidence in not just yourself, but in other goals you would like to achieve. Confidence, especially self-confidence is essential to life and functioning as an individual. You need to be confident in what you do. You need to be sure that you can do this and you can do it well. And by confidence, this means if you yourself, not what others tell you, put on you, pressure you. No, YOU. You are confident in yourself. You are honest with yourself. You are doing it because of others or wanting to impress others. You are doing it FOR YOU. Being yourself in itself can alleviate so much in your life. It can truly solve the many problems people have today. But even I know, it is easier said than done and it is not exactly easy to “be yourself”. But this is a type of struggle. To be ourselves this is a type of struggle. Similar to how we try to attain knowledge whether it be religion, education, etc. It is a struggle that we all must plow through. This fight, this struggle to deviate from one’s self and do things that are uncharacteristic of ourselves. Because doing that may lead to uncomfort in you.
Back in middle school, I will never forget there was one assembly that we all had to attend. And the topic was simple, “You are beautiful”. There was one thing he told us to do. It was to tell the person to your left and to your right that you were beautiful. This simple exercise caught me off guard. Because it is true. You are beautiful. NO ONE should tell you otherwise, especially to the people that do not know and the people mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog. It is not in there place to shoot you down, throw you away, take your beauty away. They should never destroy your beauty and who you are. If it is anything come back stronger. Come back better. Come as someone you are comfortable with. Stay true to yourself. Be honest with yourself. Because at the end of the day, everyone is trying to blend in and there is a place for everyone. Don’t let anyone think there is no place for you. In honesty, your beauty is needed. Hell, even Eminem wrote a song about this very topic called “Beautiful”. There is no need to try to impress others. When you do this, you move away from.your beauty, you move away from yourself.
As Eminem said, “And to the rest of the world, God gave you the shoes. That fit you, so put em on and wear ’em. And be yourself man, be proud of who you are. Even if it sounds corny, Don’t ever let nobody tell you, you ain’t beautiful”. And be yourself.
By Salah Shaikh
I sometimes feel like I think way too much. I need to stop.
Now some people might say: What a silly conclusion! Why Hira, you spend way too much time thinking about the most useless things in the world! And that, my friends, is something that hits way too close to home.
But really, you might not want to jump into my head to see what bizarre thoughts I come up with. Some people like to think about the mundane things in life: what do I need to get for today’s groceries, where are my keys, did I do my homework? And that’s fine. Some people like to think about the deepest thoughts in the dead of night: What is life? Why do humans have opposable thumbs? Are aliens real? How come everyone except for me has a job? That’s also fine.
Now me: I like to think about the many ways you can die. Specifically at Rutgers. And then post them online for Rutgers students to see.
This is slightly less fine.
These are the fruits of my wacky (read: psycho) contemplations that will leave you forever hanging in a perpetual limbo of anxiety and panic. Because nowhere is safe, I present to you, Dumb Ways to Die: the Rutgers Edition.
1. Eating at Brower. I know, it’s an overused joke that only freshmen make nowadays in order to look funny in front of everyone, but I’m gonna expand on that and tell you that all of the Rutgers dining halls give the same result, whether it’s Livingston or Brower. It’s just a matter of time before your body begins to reject such disgrace and calling it “food.” For those of you who live on-campus, I understand that this cannot be avoided.
It was nice knowing you.
2. A giant, conflagration on the bus. All those disconcerting sounds coming from the engine feel like the bus is going to come crumbling down into a big, fiery mess. I’m just waiting for the time that all those students that pile into an already cramped bus are gonna make it break down at some point, which will cause the students to get so angry that they’re late for class for the umpteenth time this semester and generate one huge, collective brain meltdown–
You can tell I’ve had this experience.
3. Alhamdulillah, hallelujah, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You find one of them fancy single-person unisex bathrooms and a feeling of immense worriment lifts from your shoulders as you tentatively open the door. This is the first time you get to do Wudu in peace ever since that embarrassing little situation not too long ago when you got caught by some poor bewildered individual with your foot in the sink, thinking you could put your sneaky-ninja abilities to use and failing miserably. You thought you would’ve died of embarrassment.
Well, thankfully you didn’t… until you slip on that puddle someone else made before you had come in, who had the same idea in the same bathroom while they were doing Wudu. Wudu-ception.
4. It’s finals week, so you have all five of your notebooks open in front of you from that one class that’s practically only consists of huge graphs and diagrams (curse you, math). You pick up this paper, then that paper then back to the first paper, your eyes go cross-eyed, and the next thing you know you have paper cuts all over your body and are now bleeding out onto the floor. Studying = death. So don’t study.
Or switch to a laptop.
5. We’re all college students: up to date with the latest technology, social media, the works. Therefore, we are practically fused to the Internet and, in turn, our devices that provide that link to us. Our devices, like our laptops, phones and tablets that earn the ire and irk of mothers and fathers aplenty, are necessary in our day to day lives, whether it’s for school or recreation or anything in between.
You know, I’m not going to be that surprised when my eyes start to dry and shrivel up after extensive and consistent use of my laptop screen that’s been radiating fluorescent light at me for a majority of my day, every day. If my eyeballs pop out, that’s simply going to be a natural effect of my unhealthy screen-viewing habits.
My mom thinks that’s how I’ll go.
Okay, so these scenes are getting a little bit ridiculous. But the main thing that I want to be delivered here, through horribly-executed deadpan humor and silly sketches done at two AM in the morning (hey, they were funny at the time), is that we have no idea when we will leave this world to be reunited with Allah.
The prospect that death is just around the corner may come as an unwanted scare to us, but it can also fill us with a sense of determination, if we choose to. Just changing our mindset, our outlook on certain things can give us that boost of inspiration, that energy to get those minds in overdrive. Because if we put things off to tomorrow, if we let laziness take over, if we decide to pass up on that opportunity…
Who knows? Maybe one of these things may get you in the end.
Picture: a metaphorical social media flood. A tornado of posts- nay, an earthquake. Your newsfeed trembles at high magnitude in posts, this sheikh, that fatwa.
The morning of Halloween, I prepared myself for the flood of posts that I have come to expect annually on this day. Typically, they’re very similar in nature: a detailed outline of the Pagan roots of Halloween, the nature of the celebration, the message we are sending the youth by allowing them to engage in this activity. Now, my opinions on this matter aside, I have found myself slightly excited for the sense of familiarity in the bickering, the online arguments. Someone throws a synonym or two around of “wrong”, something that is at least five syllables, of course, to sound as article and intellectual as possible.
This year, to somewhat of my own personal dismay, I found hardly any of these posts. And not just today, but the past few years have created a pattern on my timeline during these times, showing a decrease in posts that tell Muslims to dissociate themselves from ‘American’ traditions. This shift is due in part to the change in generations, that many of the young adults that are beginning to lead the Muslim youth today are first-generation Americans, molded by nights of trick-or-treating (or watching your friends from the window, with the lights all turned off in your house. Take your pick). We are the generation that grew up listening to our class mates sing Christmas carols in December, prepare their stockings. We are the generation that grew up with Fresh Prince re-runs and Drake lyrics, seemingly more connected to American culture than the native culture of our parents.
This seems to largely be the reason for the general shift and liberalization of the Muslim community. Growing up with a heightened sense of Islamaphobia and a “radical” movement, American Muslims have gone to lengths to disassociate themselves with anything that seemed too extreme. Generally, American Muslims have become less conservative, opting to move closer to the left, far from accusations of ‘extremism’. Radical movements have caused American Muslims to liberalize their views.
Growing up, I would never have imagined seeing as many Muslims as non-Muslims out trick or treating, Muslims with tattoos, Muslims speaking out to push support towards LGBTQA communities, the building of gay mosques. Whether or not you agree with any of these actions, or are completely opposed to them, having such large populations of Muslim Americans shift so radically to the left from where we were in pre-9/11 Islamaphobic era, indisputably shows that the Muslim community as a whole is becoming much more liberal.
The general views and attitude of the Muslim community in the past few years has seen a radical shift towards liberalization, and if trends continue in this direction, there’s no telling how far left the Muslim community will shift in the coming years.
By Inayah Lakhani
Sweet are you,
in humbling display.
I feel you trailing me,
and shy away.
Why do you grasp me?
I don’t feel you, yet
you ensnare me.
Why do you run,
Your beauty, always shadowed,
does not age.
Do not take me,
leave me be,
leave me be.
I carry the bittersweet memories of living in different cities, of my childhood innocence that left me long ago.
I carry lipstick in my purse because I’ve been taught that it’s classy, at least that’s what they told me so.
I carry poems because they entertain me much more than screens that broadcast humanity’s lows.
I carry the whispers I caught from others that criticize me to the very last.
I carry a reserved soul because I’ve seen too much evil to let go.
I carry the burden of someone else’s happiness that pressures me to be perfect, a motivation unsurpassed.
I’ll carry you if you carry me, at least that’s what I’ve been told.
I carry a pen that strikes paper like bullets shooting at targets during war.
I carry the languages of French, Spanish, Algerian, and English because culture is all I have ever known.
I carry my wooden spoon that my father gave me when I was eight, because cooking is a form of love from the soul.
I carry the regrets of all the insults I have ever said.
I carry a cup filled with black coffee, no milk or sugar, just the way I like it; bitter.
I’ll carry you if you carry me, at least that’s what you told me so.
I carry the wisdom of generations that have tumbled down through proverbs from ancient folks.
I carry the oppression of the subjugation of myself to adhere to cultural restrictions and contradictions that is society’s big hoax.
I carry that firm personality that resembles the first teacher that ever taught me how to read.
I carry the thoughts of wondering what did I do to deserve God’s mercy.
I carry a transcript with ‘good’ grades that seek to pursue your pleasure and to repay you, mother, for the sacrifices; don’t worry I remember.
I’ll carry you if you carry me, at least that’s what I’ve been told.
I carry the shoes that guided my feet through the halls of darkness to light as a lost soul.
I carry the quarrels we had like lovers in a parking lot.
I carry the books of Hosseini, Qabbani, and all the authors I have ever known.
But, the Quran that trembles in my right hand still strikes me as if I’ve never read it before.
I carry the picture of a graceful old woman draped in white in an olive garden that I met long ago.
May Allah swt have mercy on her soul.
I’ll carry you if you carry me, at least that’s what I’m telling you so.
I’ll carry your baggage and all our dirty laundry because
mon coeur comprend et vous aime.
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.
When I First Fell in Love
The fading topaz walls,
the pictures of flags and names scribbled by a four-year old girl,
attempting to make a new home hers.
I remember the busy streets with police sirens,
the high rusty gates of the abandoned garden.
The smell of cous-cous and mint tea,
perfuming the air.
The sweet humming of my mother’s voice filled our ears,
like Sirens playing to Homer in his journey back to Ithaca.
Take me back to Itaca.
Take me back to Brooklyn and Jersey City,
where my young spirit was like a delicate flower,
breaking through the impenetrable concrete sidewalks of merciless cities.
Take me back to my first ever poem that I wrote in Kindergarten for show and tell.
Take me back when I first fell in love with the way words,
caressed the crinkles on that cafeteria napkin.
The times I let the brilliance of my ballpoint pen escape.
Take me back to when I started my affair with language,
and possessed poetry as my mistress.
I am a poet from those brick buildings in Brooklyn,
a poet from the Saharan village on the outskirts of Oran,
a poet who still keeps flags and scribbled names
on her fading topaz walls,
that shadow her pharmacy textbooks,
and her emerald-green prayer rug.
The night will strike again,
through this mind’s mist,
deadening everything I hear.
That wanton smile
maneuvers to your face;
those rosy, sweet lips
I shall never taste.
Do not entice me
with your warped core.
Do not ensnare me;
release, from this torn mind
Do not love me,
find your lord, your peace.
Keep from me
your wicked art,
your decrepit “heart”.
By Hasan Habib