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by Rutgers University Muslim Students Association

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Spiritual

Moments of Peace

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.

Allahu Akbar.

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.

Allahu Akbar.

There’s no place I’d rather be.

Allahu Akbar.

 

By Hira Shahbaz

Featured post

Are You Bored?

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

Featured post

Help Yourself

Dear Allah,

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?

Ameen sum’ameen.

The First and The Last

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?

Sources:

  • “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge” – Edmund Gettier, 1963

By Abyaz Uppal  

On The Banks of Giving Thanks 101

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.

Etymology

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.

Levels

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.  

The Paragon  

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.

Application  

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.

Fiha Abdulrahman

P.S. Why On the Banks? Because of the Old Raritan. Ten points to those who got that.
(For an in-depth look on the etymology: Imam Afroz Ali’s Knowing Your Purpose and The Camel’s Gratitude )

Liberalization of the Muslim Community

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

Blood Moon

Tonight I went out to see a blood moon.

On the night of Sunday September 28th, 2015, there would be a supermoon lunar eclipse that would be visible for exactly an hour and twelve minutes. The resulting visual to be seen would be a moon thirty percent larger than normal, bathed in a blood red color. Hence the name ‘blood moon.’

That was curious in it of itself, since those two combinations of phenomena would not occur for quite a while, namely until 2033, and the next total lunar eclipse wouldn’t happen until 2018. But even rarer was the fact that I stepped out of my cozy apartment in Henderson to view this occurrence.

In hindsight I should’ve known better, since I live in an environment extremely unsuitable for gazing at the cosmos but it was a spur-of-the-moment kind of decision. After sitting for five straight hours in my chair on my laptop – don’t look at me like that, we all have those moments – doing absolutely nothing of importance, I figured I’d haul myself outside and do something useful.

I walked down to the field outside Loree Hall, dressed in a lazy hoodie and sweatpants. Yellow and white streetlights glared on my glasses until I reached the dark spot right in the middle of that field. And there I looked.

I looked futilely for a moon that I could not see, no matter how hard I tried. Clouds hid that beautiful moon away from me, smog thick in the air. ‘Round and ‘round I turned, from every vantage point I tried, but those lights foiled my attempts, their pollution seeping so far into my safe dark spot. Perhaps even with the most advanced technology there was no way to experience that moon from there. After a few minutes, I gave up.

But I learned something that night. That moon was Allah: an entity who is All-Present, even when you cannot see Him with your own eyes. The walk I walked is the journey you take to become closer to Him. The clouds covering your sight are but trials to overcome so that the smog from your eyes can be lifted to see the Most Merciful.

And in the end of it all, you will see that He was there all along.

Leading you unconsciously.

Whether you could see Him or not.

Sometimes life’s obstacles overwhelm you. You need to know when to take a break and go somewhere secluded to unwind. To go to a clearer place to see that incredible moon, to a place isolated from anyone else so that you can see that moon with nothing to obstruct our view. Just you and the moon.

Just you and Allah.

Sources:

http://www.ndtv.com/cheat-sheet/10-things-to-know-about-the-rare-supermoon-lunar-eclipse-1223553

–Hira Shahbaz

Eid and #IStandWithAhmed

First of all,  Eid Mubarak to you all. This is the day of sacrifice where Ibrahim was ordered by Allah (swt) to sacrifice his own son, Ismail, but instead Ismail was replaced and this has led to many Qurbani’s today. It is a day to remember that moment and celebrate it peacefully amongst our peers. Unfortunately though there is a problem. And that is we Muslims are not living in full peace.

Islamophobia is more rampant than ever in the U.S. and around the world where Muslims are branded as terrorists and seen as hostile threats. A perfect example of this was the recent story of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14 year old boy who brought a clock he built to school to show to his teacher, only to get arrested by police for thinking the clock was a threat. A majority of people criticized the arrest– Mslims and non-Muslims alike such as Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton, etc. These people saw the incident for what it was: blatant Islamophobia. Because Ahmed is a Muslim and because he brought a device that seemed “like a bomb” was arrested for it. It was so criticized a trending hashtag #IStandwithAhmed was created and became extremely popular.

But even with the popularity for Ahmed, it still does not solve the problem of Islamophobia. This is something Muslims must face everyday. Many Muslims live in fear that they could be the next Ahmed where they get arrested for “suspicious” activity because of their faith and/or what they wear such as a hijab, niqab, etc. It is something that Muslims struggle to overcome and persevere against. So here lies the question: how can one Muslim fight through Islamophobia, debunk it, and still try their best to live healthy lives when it is such a rampant problem today? The answer may lie in the origins of the holiday Eid-ul Adha. I’m talking about the story between Ibrahim and Ismail.

The story between Ibrahim and Ismail was more than just Ibrahim willing to sacrifice his own son. There is a lot more to it then simply that. Here’s what I mean:

The reason Ibrahim did what he did is because he believed in Allah (swt). He believed in the teachings of Allah (swt). He believed that Allah (swt) was the creator of the heavens, universe, planets, and life. He believed that Allah (swt) was his creator and that Allah (swt) gave him the ability to live. He believed in Allah (swt) to the extent where he would sacrifice his own son–a son he had been waiting to come for decades. He passed this test, and, thus, Allah (swt) spared Ismail. The reason Allah (swt) let Ismail live is because they both believed in him. Ibrahim with sacrificing and Ismail, too, for letting his father sacrifice him. It showed courage, bravery and fortitude that only a few others could possibly have. Imagine having the courage to sacrifice your own child because Allah (swt) told you to.

Another key concept that can be taken from this story is to see how precious life really is. Ibrahim believed in Allah (swt) because he was thankful for the life he had given to him, and to Ismail.  Ibrahim realized that he was given a life that he was supposed to make the most out of. One of the many ways he did this is following Allah (swt)’s word. He made the most of his life by not just believing in God, but also taking care of his own family. Making sure they are safe and they get the necessary resources for survival. Ibrahim strived for knowledge and wanted to learn. These are all main aspects of the Qur’an and Allah (swt)’s word. An example of this knowledge was displayed when he built the Kaaba. Overall, the main point is that Ibrahim made the most out of his life and never let it go to waste.

Finally, another key concept that can be taken from this is that if you believe in God consistently, then, most likely, good things will happen to you. Ibrahim believed in God and because of this, God was so merciful to let Ibrahim keep his own son. And this is not just that episode. It was throughout Ibrahim’s life. Ibrahim was poor and he did at times struggle for survival. But, because he believed in Allah (swt), he was eventually granted many resources. Some scholars argue that these resources were how the city of Makkah was built. And it took him quite a while to have Ismail. No matter how many times he prayed and how many years passed, he had not once did Ibrahim complain because of his faith in Allah and his resilience to it.  The overall main point here is that he believed in God and God returned him the favor by awarding him for believing in God and believing in the good and moral principles Allah (swt) brought forth to him.

With all of this being said, it is clear that there are a lot of lessons that can be learned simply from the origins of Eid ul-Adha: the courage, bravery, and fortitude that both Ibrahim and Ismail displayed, they way Ibrahim conducted himself to realize how precious life is, but, most of all, his consistent and continued faith in Allah (swt). What is not to say that we Muslims today can not emulate the teachings that this story has taught us? If Ibrahim had the courage to sacrifice his own son, what is not to say that we should have the courage to fight through Islamophobia and not let it phase us? If Ibrahim was able to still believe in Allah (swt) despite living a poor life, despite taking a while to have a son, and despite the fact that Allah (swt), the God he believed in, ordered him to kill his own son, would still do it because he believed, what is not to say that we as Muslims should not abridge what we believe in simply because of the actions of a few? Life is indeed precious and it is time we looked up instead of down. We only have so many years in us that we can not let it go to waste. Do not let Islamophobic acts such as the one involving Ahmed Mohamed abridge you from your own faith. Like the prophets themselves, we must stand up for what we believe in, be comfortable with ourselves and not let others break us down in times of struggle. Gain more knowledge than you did previously so you can build this courage to combat Islamophobia and take it head on. You can still become a better Muslim in times of struggle, just like when Ibrahim and Ismail did.

Today, yes celebrate Eid ul-Adha. It is a day to be celebrated and enjoyed with family absolutely. However, recognize that Islamophobia exists, but do not let it deter you from your faith and who you are. Just look up to the words of Allah (swt), Ibrahim, and Ismail for how you can fight through Islamophobia and combat it.

By Salah Shaikh

My Story

So it’s that time of year again. No, not Eid. No, not the other Eid. No, it’s not National Beard Day. What kind of calendar are you looking at?

Yes, my friends, it is time for the start-of-the-year MSA Kickoff event, and this year’s theme is Medieval Times, but you knew that already didn’t you, since this is going to be released after all is said and done.

But! I wanted to take a moment to give you a snapshot into my life as to how the MSA made its impact on me: from the beginning of my freshman year to my sophomore year which I am just starting. And let me give you a spoiler: it impacted my life a ton.

Let’s start by going all the way back to when I was a clueless little freshman, scrolling through Facebook trying to learn all I could about “the most highly-proclaimed MSA on the East Coast” (I may be exaggerating). I saw that their first event was on a Thursday – get used to that, that’s when they always have their events – and, despite me being the reserved kid who had been hunkering down in her dorm room ever since she moved in, I decided to go.

That day came and I entered the hall, a nervous wreck, because I knew absolutely no one – and I mean no one – while everyone else did. An already formidably-sized crowd was buzzing with chatter, people were catching up with friends whom they hadn’t seen during the summer… and then there was me standing off to the side like a loser. Still, I felt a connection that I hadn’t had in the two weeks I’d been at Rutgers, and I held that comfort close.

Eventually, everyone settled down and the official Kickoff for the 2014 school year started as we sat through many announcements, videos and speeches by the officers. As they talked, I slowly became aware of a smile on my face; it was as if I already knew how much of a family this MSA would become to me. Heck, I felt the most comfortable in that tiny, crammed-to-the-brim room with Muslims breathing down my neck. Something within me was recharging and, while I couldn’t put my finger on it, it was a good feeling.

The event wound down and some people went for snacks, some left and others went to the side to sign up for the numerous sub-clubs in MSA (like Submissions). Somewhere in the whirlwind of activity, I found two girls, freshman like me, and we stuck together like a delicious PB&J sandwich. I couldn’t even begin to describe the feeling of inclusion that swirled in that place when we three held hands to form a human chain going through the brother’s side, giggling all the way. It was simply amazing.

As soon as I stepped through the doors leading outside to leave, my mood sobered. It may not have been a crazy party, but I certainly didn’t want that night to end.

Fast forward to this year’s Kickoff, throw some sunglasses on me and call me a cool kid because I was living the halal life: great fun, awesome friends (I’m still friends with one of the aforementioned girls) and a seriously caring community that always has my back. And most of all, my faith had become the strongest it had been in all my years.

But above all else, I have to remember where I came from and how I started out. Because I’d definitely not have any of these things if I didn’t put myself out there and take risks. My decision started a chain reaction all because of that one event I pushed myself to go to and while this can be applied to anything…

This is my MSA story.

By Hira Shahbaz

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