Monday, July 31, 2006


M.E.- Masjid Etiquette... Something that I feel needs to be discussed.

Alhamdulillah recently there have been many people coming to the masjid for prayer on Fridays. For brothers of course this is a necessity but the number of sisters I have seen has be growing. May Allah reward everyone for their desire to serve Him and give us all the greater reward for praying in congregation.

Of course, with large groups there are always differences in opinion, but lately I have been witness to some things that I feel need to be mentioned if only to serve as a reminder to us all about the beauty of our place of prayer, the sacredness of the Qur'an, and the importance of Friday prayer.

Alhamdulillah, the sister's side of the masjid was so full last week that we had to keep the door open as we were literally almost spilling out trying to all fit in the prayer room. What was unfortunate was that there was a group of young girls (early teen 10-12yrs) that were sitting in the stairs with no intention of listening to the Khutbah. Insha'Allah Allah will move in their hearts and give them desire to listen to what the Imam is speaking about. What has made me mention these girls is that they were talking and laughing very loudly during the entire Khutbah. They saw the door was open and it was an obvious disruption to the rest of the mosque but they didn't stop. Even when a sister motioned to them on numerous occasions to quiet down, they disregarded her and continued to talk. Now I know the thought might be here, that they are "still young" but I truly believe they are old enough to know better. In addition to that I have also heard women talk to each other while the Khutbah is being delivered. Not only does this compromise their ability to focus on what is being said, and goes against what is asked of us as Muslims, but it directly impacts other brothers' and sisters' ability to focus on what is being said. Here is a hadith to consider...
In Sahih Muslim:Narrated Abu Huraira "The person who takes a bath then comes to the Jum`a prayer, then offers the prayer that was destined for him, and then keeps silent till the Imam finishes the sermon, and then prays along with him, his sins between that time and the next Friday would be forgiven, and even of three days more"(similar hadiths appear in Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, & Ahmad binHanbal)
Not only does it mention being silent during the Khutbah, but look at the reward insha'Allah a Muslim gets for doing such things.

But it should be mentioned that it is FORBIDDEN to talk during the Khutbah. Several sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) cover this subject. In an authentic hadith reported by the group of Ahadith collectors except Ibn-Majah, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, "If you told your friend to pay attention on Friday while the Imam is delivering the speech then you committed a sin of vain talk." Another authentic hadith which was reported by Imam Ibn-Majah and Attermizi that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, "Even who touches the gravel on the floor then he committed vain talk, and he who does commit that there will be no (Jummah) Friday for him."

Related to that, "The Muslim should not distract other praying Muslims in the Masjid, because the praying Muslim is in contact with Allah (S.W.T.) so he should not be distracted not even with reciting Qur'an, supplication, or remembrance of Allah. Imam Ahmad reported Abdullah bin Omar (R.A.) narrated that the Prophet (S.A.W.) saw some people praying, and they became loud in their prayer. He said: "The praying person is in contact with his Lord, so let him concentrate on whom he is in contact with, and do not raise your voices over one another with Qur'an."

It is said that Muslims should keep themselves busy supplicating and remembering Allah (S.W.T.) while they are sitting in the Masjid, because they are in the prayer as long as they are waiting for the prayer.

I believe if everyone knew this, the talking would cease.

I also wanted to mention the importance of coming on time to the masjid. Of course there are things that are at times outside of our control, and Allah knows best, but look at the following...
In a authentic hadith reported by Imam Abu-Dawod the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, "On Friday the angels come to stand on the doors of the mosque (masjid), the angels record who comes first, if the Imam starts delivering the speech, the angels close their files and come to listen to the speech."

Wouldn't it certainly be best to be among those whose names are recorded in the files of the angels?

But now something that is very frustrating... I have seen gum placed on furniture inside the prayer room, shoes left on, and Qur'ans placed on the ground.
The Qur'an is a sacred text. It is fairly common knowledge that the Qur'an should be placed on an elevated position such as a rihal (Qur'an stand), desk, or pillow. It should not be placed on the carpet or on any place which people stand or sit, and especially not on the ground.

Regarding the gum. What a sign of disrespect. The closest comparison I can find from the time of the Prophet (S.A.W.) is spit. The Prophet (S.A.W.) considered spitting in the Masjid to be a sin that could be forgiven only if the Muslim cleans the area. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet (S.A.W.) said: "Spitting in the Masjid is a sin and its expiation is clean it." When the prophet (S.A.W.) saw a spit in the Masjid, he used to remove it with a stone.
Muslims should keep the Masjid clean and in good shape and smell as it is the house of Allah (S.W.T.).

May we all strive to do what is the best for us and our religion in the name of Islam and for the sake of Allah (SWT). May Allah (SWT) guide us all on the right path and make us among the pious. May He reward us for all of our good deeds and Insha'Allah we will remember Him in all that we do. Ameen.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

It Isn't Worth It.

I have been thinking about the recent posts by both myself and Brother Green, but mainly about the comments that have resulted from the posts. I have no idea if what I have to say will help any of you who are struggling with various sin and temptation, but Allah has put it on my heart today, Alhamdulillah.

The topic of discussion is giving into sin and the worldly things that seem to lure and tempt Muslims on a daily basis, especially in North America.
I have been thinking long and hard about how I can try and convince people that the "fun" things that people are talking about; the sex, drugs, alcohol, nudity, dancing, movies, language, dating... That these things which saturate society are not all that they are cracked-up to be.

I can understand how if these are things you haven't experienced first hand, or have "had a taste of" and have left you wanting more, why it would be hard to ignore them. As a university student I know the pressures that are on people to drink, to "fit in" because if "everybody else is doing it..." could it really be that bad? I am going to be honest and very candid in this entry. Those moments- the ones that seem so great at the time, the ones that leave you on a high as if you were riding a rollercoaster will eventually only leave you with despair and guilt. Despair and guilt that I can only describe by some of the following REAL stories.

If you think that drinking is glamerous and fun, let me tell you about the friends that I have talked to who have no recollection of the nights spent drinking. They have no recollection of where they spent their time, who they were with... I know people who thought it was "so cool to drink" that they spent the night surrounded by men in a club and woke-up in a room surrounded by other men they had never seen before.

I have personally seen people passed out on bathroom floors because they have alcohol poisoning... I know you may be thinking "but I have control, those people didn't." Do you think they planned on being in that stage when they started out?

For those of you who think that exposing yourself in clothing which isn't modest is okay, and wonder "who is it hurting anyway?" Let me respond by telling you that I have heard men talk about women dressed scantly clad. That the comments they make are not about their mind. Where these women become a piece of meat, objectified and on display. And for those of you who say "but how others dress is outside of my control." Well yes, you are right, but are you putting yourself in compromising situations where you are looking?

What about dating? Seems innocent until temptation comes in... You think you are strong enough? What happens when you break-up? What happens when you start finding your faith again and have to deal with the guilt of knowing you have had intimate experiences with someone other than your life partner.

I personally know people that have stolen from their families to buy drugs, who are addicted to sleeping pills, who have parents who are both alcoholics and now their children have adopted the habit. I know compulsive shoppers who have gone thousands and thousands of dollars into debt and have ruined their life because of greed, I know families that have been torn apart by adultery. I know women who have been sexually assaulted and feel guilty about it because they feel like their behaviour "asked for it". I know girls who vomit on a regular basis because they feel like their bodies need to look like the half-naked movie stars in the media. I have seen young boys talk about gangs and drugs because they are "cool", these are 10-12 year old boys I am talking about. I know of a someone who had a child at age 12... Babies having babies, I know a woman who is still dealing with the guilt of aborting a child 40years later...

What is glamorous and fun about any of this? What is so enticing or rewarding? I can promise you that if any of those people could change their experiences they would. I can tell you that even as someone whose past sins have been erased at the time of my conversion, I still deal with the feelings of guilt that tear my heart up. Areas where I feel like I fell so short.

Do you want to be the person who is sitting with their head in their hands writhing with guilt and despair? Do you want to deal with the anguish that these things cause? It isn't worth it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Past is History

Initially I had intended on only posting a comment to ARG's recent remark, but it seems between my thoughts, a recent email I received and Allah constantly teaching me, I have more to say...

Brother Green you are entirely right when you say that as Muslims we need to be constantly monitoring our speech and actions as so many people in society are waiting for an opportunity to "blame Islam." I hope that the satire in my recent entry didn't offend anyone and was only taken as a "need to keep smiling approach" on days that I "can't believe my ears." That being said, here is what is on my heart today...

As a Muslim there is an expectation to show others the beauty and truth that is Islam. To be modeling this in a way that is modest and true.
For Muslima's that wear hijab, I think there is at times an additional pressure as we become a visible minority to the public. Any individual can look and think "there is a Muslim". Although both men and women are equally responsible to act in a way that is pleasing to Allah, I think it is especially important for the hijab-wearing sisters to be sure their actions are conducive with the religion. It is one of the areas I feel is a blessing from Allah on sisters. How wonderful to know that Allah has given us that additional opportunity to witness to non-Muslims. As it was recently said to me, you never know what action will help guide a person to Allah (of course Allah knows best.) Our speech, and our modesty may be a key factor in bringing someone to the point where they seek out Islam.

As a revert to Islam I also think there is added responsibility. Although there are days when I wish I was raised Muslim so I would know more of the Qur'an, have more Surrah memorized, and be more knowledgeable in the hadith etc. I am forever grateful to Allah that I am one of the people He chose (and only through His grace and mercy) to follow His religion at a later time in life. Being able to talk to others (especially non-Muslims) about why I would give up my Western life to follow Islam is a powerful thing. When people look at me they not only see a woman wearing hijab, but they see a Canadian, pale-skinned woman wearing hijab. Understandably so, this can draw an obvious amount of attention. But Alhamdulillah Allah has given me this opportunity. Alhamdulillah I have an opportunity to witness to others, and have an additional sense of accountability when I know that I may be more visible to the public than a Muslim male walking down the street.
I thank Allah for that opportunity.

However, today there is a heaviness that is weighing on my heart. A heaviness that is there for the sake of the community. As a revert to Islam I am constantly asked (especially by the Muslim community) how I feel about giving things up that I was used to and comfortable with as a non-Muslim and Canadian. Maybe this seems like a natural question, so I will expand my point in hopes to make things clear.
Another sister in (also a revert to Islam who was raised in Canada) recently declared her faith to the community. It was a beautiful thing. Alhamdulillah. This sister also has a beautiful child. When I announced the news to some of the brothers and sisters, that a sister had declared shahadda to the community one of the first things people talked about was that she had a child and they wanted to know who the father was. "DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID? A SISTER JUST GAVE SHAHADDA IN FRONT OF HER COMMUNITY!" How infuriating and deeply saddening for me that when we are talking about a person choosing to follow Allah and the true religion of Islam, some of the comments made were about this sister's past.

As Muslims, insha'Allah we will receive the mercy of Allah when the time comes. As reverts to Islam we are given a 'clean slate', all of our sins erased.... a fresh start, yet I see this constant focus by some brothers and sisters on the past. Rather than talking about what it is we have lost (although it isn't much of a "loss") why isn't it focused on what we have gained? I think at times there is a backwards approach and perspective.
Why does anyone want to talk about the sins of the past? Why do we want to put focus on them? Does that not only serve to give glory to Shataan? Sin is sin. The sinner needs to repent and and seek forgiveness from Allah, and insha'Allah by Allah's mercy and only His mercy will we be given that forgiveness. Outside of that, there is no need to focus on the past unless it is directly related to giving Da'wa.
As a revert to Islam there are enough things I know I personally have to live with... but Insha'Allah Allah has taken my sins away. Alhamdulillah. Let us focus on the future. Who we are as Muslims... who we can be in Islam.

It is like that classic quote says... "the past is history, the future a mystery, but this moment is a gift (Thanks be to Allah) which is why we call it the present.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Islam really is the answer to everything...

I have heard it all!

Lately I have been working four jobs so as a result come home at LATE hours only to leave shortly after fajr the following morning. The street in front of my house is two-way, but all of the cars park in the same direction... all save one.
I seem to be the one to break the mold by parking backwards because really---I'm only there for a few short hours. Seems like a silly rule anyway, everyone having to park the same way. So this weekend the city came by to ticket me (talked my way out of it) but the commissionaire was sure to tell me that my neighbours had been complaining that I had been "going against the grain" so to speak...
Shortly after, my friendly Christian neighbour came across the street and began to tell me that he was taking me to church on Sunday (he has said this before). This time he asked when it was that I had converted to Islam. I told him May 14th and before I could continue he said... and I quote.

" I knew there was something wrong with you and that something had changed. A couple of months ago you started parking the wrong way on the street, and I kept thinking 'what is wrong with this girl' and now I know. That is when you converted."

I didn't begin to tell him that I started parking on the front of the street instead of using the back because my roommate needed the space, or because I came from the end of the city that made it convienient to park in that direction without circling the block, or because my car was only sitting there for a few short hours a night...
Yup, Islam is making me park backwards on the street.... hey at least it is giving me the chance to talk to my neighbour about Islam. Maybe if I was able to park my car in a tree like in the picture here I could really talk about the power of Allah.
Just goes to show that Allah really is the answer to everything.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Allah Has a Plan.

I wish I had a clever title for this entry, but really I can only tell it like it is. Allah has a plan and it is more complex than I can ever comprehend.

Today a good friend of mine called me to tell me her husband was delivering the Khutbah at one of the local Mosques in town. I have been awaiting the opportunity to hear him speak for some time now. Needless to say I was very much looking forward to attending. As I hung-up with her and was working out in my mind when I would have to leave work to enable me to arrive at the masjiid in due time, something (ok.... Allah) was pulling at my heart telling me to go to the other mosque. The feeling was so strong that I went with it and passed-up the chance to hear this brother speak and went to the other masjiid. As I was listening to the Khutbah being delivered I remember thinking "really good information" but it was still unclear as to why I was supposed to go that Mosque.
I finished my final rakat and was about to turn to leave when one of the other sisters stopped me to introduce me to a new sister in the mosque that I hadn't met before. Like myself, this woman comes from a Christian home and although she has been seeking (and accepted Islam in her heart and among friends) she has decided that she wanted to say Shahaada at the Mosque.
We ended up sitting together for quite some time, chatting about our experiences and discussing what Islam has meant and is to both of us. Although we come from different life experiences there were similarities between us other than our religion, and Insha'Allah we will spend many more hours discussing them. One of the comments this sister made was how she had been reading and doing a lot of searching on her own as she still trying to connect with the community.--- I do believe that today Allah introduced us so we could be a support and connection to each other. I believe that the reason I was supposed to attend that Mosque today was to meet this sister. That somehow Allah is going to use us in each other's lives.

I know that this thought seems to be a somewhat anti-climatic entry, but I think that it is worth mentioning. Not only do we as humans often fail to see what it is Allah has laid out for us, but we often fail to even look. Other times we question a decision that we made in lieu of another and live wondering if it was the right one.
I was recently reading Brother Green's blog and he was talking about this in his life. How he has had an experience that has made him consider the choice he made and has sparked curiosity of things may have been different if...
I am in no way saying that I have any wisdom to lecture or advise, especially when I often find myself asking the same question about various times in my life, but the more I sit back and look at things, the more I see "Allah has a plan."
If my grandfather had never been killed this last year, I likely would have never began my search into Islam (but Allah knows best). Naturally I wish my grandfather was still alive, but look at what has come out of his passing.
If I had gone to the other Khutbah today I may have heard something that applied more directly to my situation currently but instead I met someone that Insha'Allah will impact my life (and Insha'Allah I will also impact hers).
Brother Green-- Sure taking the other position may have given you an opportunity to witness to those brothers but it may have not. Trust that Allah used you where you were most needed. Think of all of the lives that you impact on a daily basis from your work at London Central Mosque, think of all of the lives that you impact overseas (I am speaking from the heart here... you had a big hand in my reversion to Islam. Would we have ever met if you had taken the other job? Would then I have found the answers I needed?)

I was a the grocery store the other day and a man literally walked into me and then asked me about my hijab and what religion I was a part of etc. He then told me he didn't have a religion and could he join mine? How much did it cost? Where was the office? (Granted he was intoxicated) But I left the store thinking should I have said something more? Given him more useful information, written something down for him? But at the end of the day, I trust that Allah will work it out. That Allah has a plan and He knows best.

May Allah open our eyes to His plan, may we always trust in Him. May He always seek us out... Ameen.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Since everyone else seems to have all of the answers..."

I know that my recent conversion has caused many of my friends to question my intentions-- to stand in shock as they hear that I have converted to a faith that is so different from that which they know or used to know me in.
I know that friends and family are going to be worried about how this will change me... change my life-- How my faith will impact who I am in relation to who I was.
Everyday I have those that are close to me TELL me about what "my life in Islam" is going to be like... "what I can expect out of my choices." They repeat all of the same sentences that I am so familiar to every time I tell someone that I have converted...
"You mean you aren't going to drink anymore?"
"So you are going to cover your head?"
"What about food... you only can eat special meat?"
"You know you won't have any rights"
"You were so independent"
"So you are going to pray five times a day?"
"So you can't date/hug/touch guys?"
The list is endless. What really has got me riled-up as I sit here and write this, is that these are the areas that my friends and family seem to be grieving about my change. Granted changing elements like this, which used to be part of my personality do in a way change part of who I am/was, but are these really the characteristics that made me who I was? If I never drink again is it really going to alter the woman I used to be to all of these people? Why are these things issues for people? Quite honestly, the questions that are so often asked and seem to be such grave areas of concern really cause me to wonder who it was that I was presenting myself as when I was non-Muslim? Did what I ate and how I dressed make me who I was? Because honestly I thought that the friend that I was: the honest, loyal, optimistic, friendly, fun-loving person was what made me the person my friends cared about. Those qualities, have not changed, I can assure you that no faith, will change what my friends and family mean to me, and the manner in which I love them.
Naturally there will be differences, but change is inevitable to any person. As we grow as human beings there are numerous things that will impact how we perceive the world. What really has me upset is how the differences that everyone I know seem to be getting hung up on, are changes which are so incredibly trivial.
What I really struggle with is why I need to go to a bar, or drink or wear certain clothes to be the person that "I was."
There are days that I honestly feel as though it is more acceptable to be an alcoholic and not drink in the eyes of society, than it is to not drink because of faith.

What makes me equally angry is that people keep referring to this "change in my life" and claiming that they have nothing against Islam, they just "don't want me to lose who I was". But lets be honest here... If I had converted to any other faith; Buddhism or Catholicism I think it would be safe for me to speculate that we wouldn't be having these conversations. That many of the comments and concerns people have are due to their conceptions-- or rather misconceptions of Islam. What I love about this statement is how when people say it to me they proceed to tell me what my life is going to be like... what I can expect. Really? Do you know what it is like to be Muslim? Do you know the ins and outs of the faith? Because the thing is, I am living it out... I am experiencing what it is to me Muslim, I daily read, ask questions and spend time with the Muslim community. I KNOW what it has been like and continues to be like, but-- I mean if everyone else seems to have all of the answers then who am I to say anything.

If people want to know who I am I wish they would quit speculating and generalizing and either ask or come and see. I am ME. I am the same Canadian, red-head who loves people, her friends, good books, art and having fun. I still eat chocolate daily, I still like to lay around with close girl-friends and talk about everything and nothing. I still love to rollerblade, hike, camp, and eat in ethnic restaurants. I would still do anything for my friends, and I still believe in God. The minor changes in my actions and behaviour do not in anyway impact who I am as a person to my friends and family... I don't know how to show people that.

What I do know is how tired I am of people telling me why I converted. That I didn't know the right Christians, that I didn't 'know' God, that the trauma I have gone through with my family in the last year or two has caused me to convert... that I converted for a guy. Again-- let me say that none of these are the reasons that I converted. Yet, I am sure I am wasting my words by saying that. When I began reading about Islam it was never to convert. Only to try and educate myself. But questions came up and I couldn't ignore them. I converted because it was real to me, it is truth... The answers I needed were inside of me. The answers that I needed were not in Christianity.

I didn't convert for anyone but myself. Again, what is the point of saying this when everybody apparently already knows "the reason that I really converted"... just like they all know how I will lose my identity by being Muslim.
Why is it that people continue to tell me what I have lost instead of looking and seeing what it is that I know I have gained.