Monday, April 23, 2007

Life in Toronto...

Assalam Alaikum Everyone,
Well, alhamdulillah we made it to Toronto. It has taken a week or so to get settled and get the new place set-up. Alhamdulillah we are out of the house in Winnipeg. For those of you who don't know (maybe I have never mentioned this before) but before I was Muslim I had bought a house... of course with a Mortgage. When I reverted I tried to sell it to get out of the mortgage but it wouldn't sell. I decided to fix it up a bit more and then try again knowing I would be moving to TO in the spring. Alhamdulillah it sold, and now we are renting a place. The reason I am mentioning all of this is because I can say with total certainty that Allah has blessed my marriage and life now being out of a house that has interest. We are happier, there is a different feeling altogether that I can only describe as being from Allah (SWT) and I totally believe it is because we are now living in an environment totally (insha'Allah) halal. I know that there are fatwa's that state you can own one house and one car, but the Qur'an says we as Muslims shouldn't take interest. I notice the difference-- I mention this in the hopes that it will give others the strength and encouragement they need to come out of interest they have.

The picture above is from a website of Anja Islamic Fashions. It is a company I am working for a little bit here. The sister that runs it is a convert who had gone to school to study fashion. Alhamdulillah now she is devoting herself to designing Muslim women's fashions that are modest but contemporary. She offers a range of things from skirts and tunics to albayas and matching hijabs etc. It is really beautiful well thought out attire. I will post the website and insha'Allah she is going to have it completely up and running soon. The sketches are of clothing she actually has made. I will try to remember to mention when the site is done. She is also hiring a webmaster, fashion consultant and seamstresses. If you live in TO or in the TO area and are interested let me know via a post and insha'Allah I will let you know how to contact her.

I haven't really met any sisters here yet. I have visited various masjids but there aren't ever sisters there. I should say Alhamdulillah as the best place for sisters to pray is in their home, so insha'Allah they are all getting the most of their possible reward, but I would love to meet some people to study Islam with. I did meet another revert at the Friday khutbah. She has the same name as I do, and is really wonderful mesh'Allah.
The masjid I am close to has a great bookstore and I am blessed by Allah (SWT) to be so close to so much knowledge right at my fingertips.

I had quite the experience the other day. I went to a mosque in a different area of town to pray the isha prayer and an Islamic school was just getting out. There were children everywhere. I sat down waiting for the prayer noticing I was getting whispers and stares from all of the young girls. One of them approached her mom who then told me that she asked if infact I was Muslim. She couldn't believe it because I was white.
After the prayer the group of about 10 young Muslim girls all stood in a huddle and then surrounded me. They were so curious as to what this white girl was doing there and how was I indeed Muslim?
We chatted for a while and as I was putting my shoes on overheard them making comments about my white skin, and light coloured eyes.
It gave me mixed emotions as I left. Part of me couldn't help but smile in the humour of it all, and enjoy the fact that I got to spend some precious moments with a group so such wonderful girls mesh'Allah, but part of me was saddened that they would think that Islam is a religion of only Arabs and South Asians. That they didn't know that their religion has the power to impact everyone and that it was not bound by race.

Hijab Day??

One of the sister's in the community sent me this to see what I thought. I am curious to know what you all think about it. Please post your feedback, I would like to have some thoughtful discussion about it insha'Allah.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Your real live Gap Commercial.

For work-related reasons I had to attend a church service this morning. Subhanallah it is moments like these that I can really take in the glory of Islam and what an amazing religion it is... the true religion of true worship and closeness to Allah (SWT). This particular church is a multi-million dollar building with a multi-million dollar programming schedule, lighting system as advanced as many of the major theatres I have ever been in, parking lots complete with parking lot attendants, and a full band with back-up singers... the only thing they were missing was the admission tickets (but I am sure the cost of entry was covered by the many thousands of people giving their weekly offering). I couldn't help but stiffle a laugh as I heard the pastor talk about everyone being generous and giving their tithe to help the church and give to those in need. To reach out to the community and provide for those who couldn't provide for themselves, I believe his following comment was to "Please join the other members of the congregation for a coffee at their new Starbucks". Well if that isn't providing for the community I don't know what is! I mean what would a muliti-million dollar church be without a mulit-million dollar coffee corporation in their front lobby?
Oh but wait, that wasn't really the highlight of the service. The service begins with a half-an-hour of "worship" essentially a full band with two back-up groups on each side of the stage, not to mention, smoke, lights, guitar solos, four 20feet screens (could be bigger) and numerous camera men taking shots from all different directions. Really my initial thought was that it all seemed a lot like a GAP ad, just switch the swing dancing for more of a rock and roll feel. I draw the comparision because I am sure that trendy clothes, cute hair and good looks are a pre-requisite to be on the worship team. Seriously, not an ugly person on stage and everyone with the most current and stylish clothing I have seen complete with knee-high boots, low waist jeans, big belts, retro jewlery, and bold colours. Then they all bounce and dance around on stage flailing arms and open-tooth smiles to the tempo of the music lead by the electric guitar. One of the moments that most perplexing was when they sang about "bowing in worship" as everyone was bouncing around as though they were in a mosh-pit... hmmm guess I was missing something.

Alhamdulillah it made me think of Islam and how we as Muslims join in prayer, in unity with no fancy displays or productions, just simple lines of people facing one direction really bowing down to worship the one true God. No dancing, no music, no designer clothes, no expensive hairstyles or light shows, just the humble act of humility as we press our faces to the ground. Now to me that is worship.

What is equally amazing to me is that I used to go to similar churches. Those which spent more on the theatrical productions that got people out of their homes on a Sunday morning, than they did on keeping that community clothed and fed. Can you imagine what could have been done with the money it took to buy a Starbucks.
Alhamdulillah Allah has brought me the peace and beauty of who God really is, what worship really looks like in its purest and most sincere forms.
Alhamudulillah I am Muslim.