Friday, June 30, 2006

Generation M: Make a Difference!

This past weekend, Sat. June 24th, I attended Generation M: the largest Muslim youth event in the Bay Area. It took place in San Francisco's Union Square and it was quite amazing. The day went really well, Alhamdulillah. A group of students and I traveled after our sisters' fiqh class from Zaytuna on the BART and arrived in SF less than an hour later. We thought we would all be quite late since the event was supposed to start at noon, but luckily lunch and prayer time had pushed the schedule back a little.

The event was open to the public, but a colorful array of hijabs painted the scene. It was truly beautiful. Non-Muslims, Muslims, male and female, from all different cultures and backgrounds gathered on that day to see what kind of positive impact they could effect on the community and the world at large. I pray that we were all motivated to make a difference.

If you attended, please leave a comment on what struck you the most and what you intend to do to better the society we live in.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Real Purity. Real Beauty.

Living in the West, wearing the hijab (full, loose, modest clothing and headscarf) may be the most rewarding and liberating experience a Muslim woman undertakes, but the attitudes and reactions of others can make this noble effort seem titanic.

There are many sisters out there who are confused in this regard. They earnestly desire to please Allah on one hand, yet are vulnerable to strong societal and familial pressures on the other. They are looking for answers. They are imploring the Almighty for His infinite Mercy and Guidance.

One such sister, as a silent plea for direction, reached out to other sisters with the hope of remaining steadfast on her hijab. This is one of the responses she received. I hope other sisters can read this and be inspired.

With peace,

One important question to ask youself is "Why did I start wearing hijab?" Hopefully, what inspired you to start wearing hijab will help you to keep wearing hijab on a daily basis inshaAllah. Have you always been inspired by the good Muslim women around you who wore hijab? Perhaps the great Muslim women from the past? Or did you want to command respect, especially in front of men, and insist they know and understand you for your thoughts and views rather than your physical being? Perhaps you want to be an ambassador of Islam --you know--everyone likes you, you're the top student, etc etc- you might as well proclaim the fact that you're Muslim! Perhaps just plain and simple, you want to follow the Sunnah and believe that hijab is part of the laws send down from Allah Subhanahua T'ala. Whatever the reason may be, try and remember what it was that made you start in the first place. The last thing you want is to wear hijab for the wrong reason ("all my friends do it" or "my mother said so" or "the guy I like said he wants to marry a muhajabah").

Of course, it is not easy. Now more than ever, we feel pressure from not only non-Muslims, but also Muslims (sometimes even family members), who want us to "dress more conventionally." We have to stay strong in our convictions. When you know you are right, don't be afraid. If you know that the company you keep is affecting your decision, then you know it is time for a change:

"Your (real) friend can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe--who establish prayer and pay the poor due and bow down (in worship). And whoso turns (for friendship) to Allah and His messenger and those who believe: lo! The Party of Allah, they are the victorious." (Al-Qu'ran 5:55-56)

But all in all, the daily struggle for some Muslimahs who wear hijab is not knowing what is right and wrong, but it is being plagued with looking "pretty" according to what is considered attractive in the latest fashion magazines or even in our respective cultures back home. Or perhaps you know you are pretty and feel you are unappreciated by men. Is that good looking guy not interested in your hijabiness? Believe me girlfriend, he's not that important. It sounds cliche, but if someone cannot like you for who you are then he or she is not worth it...., here's a little (long) story:

I remember I had gone to a MYNA conference almost ten years ago and heard one of the speakers (perhaps Imam Siraj Wahaj but Wallahu Alam). He started off by saying that recently a handsome young Muslim man had come up to him and asked him to refer a Muslimah to him for marriage. When asked what type of Muslimah he was looking for, the man replied, "A simple devout Muslimah who truly wears hijab and guards her modesty." The Imam was so impressed by this young man's answer, that it inspired him to recount a trip he had taken to the Middle East.

He related how he had stopped in Syria or Jordan where he was taken by some of the villagers to see the sites. As they traveled, several of the villagers told him to take a trip to the mountain range nearby to drink the fresh mineral water. "Ahh Imam you have to taste the water!" said the villagers. "It is the most pure, best tasting, refreshing drink you will ever have!" The Imam recounted how he was intrigued by this drink that everyone spoke of, and decided that he wanted to go to the mountain to get this water. After a long journey and some minimal climbing, they got to the site where the spring began and the leader of the group dipped a cup into the cool clean water and gave it to the Imam. The Imam could not wait to taste this rare and refreshing drink. But when he took a sip of it, he felt....he tasted...ugh! It was bitter on his tongue because of the healthful minerals, and all in all he didn't think it was as great as everyone around him.

The Imam was suprised. Then he took another drink, and another. As he drank, he could taste its sweetness suddenly, and the bitterness he had initially felt was gone. The villagers stood around him awaiting a response. Then finally the leader asked him, "So what did you think of the water?" The Imam was silent. Then suddenly he knew why he was not pleased with the water. "My taste buds have become accustomed to the pollution," he said. "They have become used to the chemicals, and the industrial city water. When I finally tasted real water, I did not immediately love its purity and realize that it was better than any water I had ever tasted." The Imam went on to make the analogy that we in this day and age have forgotten what real purity and real beauty is. The commercialized, plastic, bling, materialistic--that's what has been synthesized and accepted as beauty, pure, as feminine. So when some men, or even some women, see a truly pure face, just in hijab or without make-up, their first reaction is...ugh! Not because that is not real purity and beauty, but because we have forgotten what real purity and real beauty is. He ended by saying how proud he was of the young gentleman who had the ability to see clearly.

In any case, this is a long response to your entry. Hopefully it was helpful. May Allah T'ala help to keep your Iman (and mine) strong, inshaAllah. Ameen

More Precious than Diamonds and Pearls

The following incident took place when Muhammad Ali’s daughters arrived at his home wearing clothes that were not modest. Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:

When we finally arrived, the chauffer escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day.

My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.”

He looked at me with serious eyes. “Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”

Source: Taken from the book: More Than A Hero: Muhammad Ali’s Life Lessons Through His Daughter’s Eyes.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My Blessings are Mine Alone...or are they?

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island.

The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man's parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island.

He considered the other man unworthy to receive God's blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, "Why are you leaving your companion on the island?"

"My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything."

"You are mistaken!" the voice rebuked him. "He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings."

"Tell me," the first man asked the voice, "What did he pray for that I should owe him anything?"

"He prayed that all your prayers be answered."

Conclusion: For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of another praying for us.

"None of you believes until he wants for his brother what he would want for himself."
(Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Extravagant Weddings...from $25,000?!

You have to check out the video below!

The brother's recap of Muslim weddings is hilarious and oh so true! I hope he's not speaking from a painful, and costly, experience? Yikes...may God save us all...!

You can view the video on this blog: or at the actual site:

Let me know what you think!

Below is a relevant article which ties it all together:

Marriage: keep it simple and win!

Sikander Ziad Hashmi,

As the summer passes, the sweet scent of matrimony flows in the air. When it’s all over, thousands of Muslims will have said “Yes, I accepted”, “Qabilto”, or “Jee maynay qubool kiya.”

Every time I picture a marriage ceremony, I think of fancily dressed people holed up in a fancy banquet hall, listening to a speaker as he rambles on, and on, and on, as the catering personnel run around to get the food ready.

While there’s nothing terribly wrong with any of the above, is it really needed?

In Islam, the institution of marriage is a sacred one, yet a simple one.

It is sacred because it is an act of worship and it’s simple because our role model, the Prophet (SAW), always kept it simple.

Marriage is a major step in one’s life. It’s a matter of great responsibility that should by no mean be taken lightly. However, it shouldn’t be complicated to the point if one doesn’t have enough cash to hold an elaborate ceremony with hundreds of guests, one can’t get married.

Quite simply, a marriage in Islam is solemnized by a nikah (marriage contract) and a waleemah (marriage feast) that follows once the marriage has been consummated.

The nikah constitutes of a proposal from one party (eejab) and acceptance from another (qubool) in the presence of witnesses. The walimah is simply a dinner to celebrate the marriage, since marriage is, after all, a joyous occasion.

The nikah can be held at the local masjid or at home, while the walimah can be anywhere: one’s apartment, backyard, or basement, the local masjid, a park, a restaurant, a community center, or anywhere else.

As well, on the occasions of nikah and walimah, long speeches and an elaborate program are not required. Remember, simple is beautiful!

Nowadays, we seem to have been so caught up in rituals and customs that we tend to waste enormous amounts of money and time on things that simply aren’t needed. Nikah and walimah are both sunnahs (traditions) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), so doesn’t it make sense to try to commemorate these occasions in the same fashion as he did?

Anas (RA) describes one of the walimahs hosted by the Prophet (SAW):

“The Prophet stayed for three days at a place between Khaibar and Medina, and there he consummated his marriage with Safiyya bint Huyay (RA). I invited the Muslims to a banquet which included neither meat nor bread. The Prophet (SAW) ordered for the leather dining sheets to be spread, and then dates, dried yogurt and butter were provided over it, and that was the Walima (banquet) of the Prophet (SAW).” (Reported by Bukhari)

In another report, Anas (RA) says that the Prophet (SAW) “gave a wedding banquet with Hais (a sort of sweet dish made from butter, cheese and dates).” (Reported by Bukhari)

There is nothing wrong with having an elaborate ceremony in a fancy banquet hall and full-course meal prepared by a caterer, but the fact of the matter is that neither of these are requirements for a successful marriage ceremony. If one wishes to hold the ceremony in a banquet hall with a full-course meal, that’s perfectly fine, but it shouldn’t be taken as a requirement.

I’m sure many of us loan large sums of money just so we can host fancy receptions for our weddings. Or even if we spend extravagant amounts of our own money, it’s sad because there are so many better uses for our hard-earned money. After all, the amount of money spent on the ceremony has no positive effect on the life of the couple.

The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said:

“The marriage which is most greatly blessed is the one which is the lightest in burden [expense]. However, if people are well catered for, without extravagance and show, there is no problem with that either.” (Reported by Bayhaqi)

For sure, marriage an occasion to celebrate, but why waste enormous amounts of money on a celebration? It’s definitely not how our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) celebrated. In fact, wasting Allah’s bounties is something Allah has warned us against:

“But waste not by excess: for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Quran, 6:141)

It can be difficult to swim against the tide of fancy and extravagant marriages, but surely, it’s worth swimming against the tides that go against Allah’s command and the example set by the Prophet (SAW).

Let’s save all that money and keep it for better uses. That money is sure to be in demand once the honeymoon is over and the actual daily routine sets in.

If we do that with the right intention, we’ll end up saving money and at the same time, we’ll be adding to our good-deed account as well.

After all, who can’t use some extra cash, some extra good deeds, and a greatly blessed marriage (since the most greatly blessed marriage is the one that lightest in expense)?

Revolutionize The Whole World!

I truly believe that the only way we, as human beings, can get out of the mess we have put ourselves into is by reforming our lives and keeping our evil caprices under check. The only way we can accomplish this is to fully emerge ourselves in the training of our egos: to scrub away the dirt of greed, jealousy, anger, hatred, malice, etc. and replace it with love, light, kindness and a general concern and well-wishing for all of mankind.

In the following article, Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi emphasizes that Allah, the Almighty, has ennumerated in the Holy Qur'an the principle of taqwa, or fearing God, which can, and will, revolutionize our whole lives and then affect the whole of humanity.

, insha'Allah,

Distinct Position of Muslims
by Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi

"O you who believe! If you fear Allah, He will grant you Furqan (a position of distinction) and will expiate for you your sins, and forgive you. Allah is the Owner of Mighty Grace."
(Holy Qur'an: 8:29)

In the verse I have just recited Almighty Allah's order is thought provoking. It is a jolting verse which can revolutionize the whole world. Almighty Allah alone is worthy of worship. He is Master of all and He is the One who created the universe. He is the creator of Jinns and human beings. Nothing can happen without His will. He can bring revolution in countries. He transforms the circumstances, and He can free the slaves and enslave the free.

Any thing which is repeatedly recited is not usually pondered over deeply. If the Holy Qur'an is recited and pondered over it would make your nights sleepless. It can provide stimulus not only to the body but also to the mind and soul. Almighty Allah says: "O you who believe! If you fear Allah"; this word "God-fearing" is not an ordinary one. If somebody fears Allah he is known as Muttaqi (God-fearing). One who refrains from back biting and slander, people say he is God-fearing. But Taqwa, according to the language and definition of the Holy Qur'an, has a very broad and revolutionary meaning. It can reverse the systems of the whole world. Almighty Allah says if you become God-fearing - it does not literally mean fear of God - it means fear of God in your beliefs and actions, aims and objectives, morals and behavior, and in your dealing with fellow human beings. If you thus fear Allah, He will elevate you to a position of distinction.

Check out the full article: