Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Jihad You Jihad We All Jihad

People, not only Muslims carry out jihad every day. I know everyone today thinks jihad means "holy war". They'd be wrong. Muslims however never used the term "holy war". We can thank Pope Urbaine II who coined the term to promote the crusades. Jihad actually comes from the Arabic word juhud which means "to struggle". This obviously can be used in many situations in life, not only in times of war. You can struggle to provide for your family, to do well in school, to pay the bills every month, to protect your loved ones, to choose right from wrong etc.. But since the most popular version to talk about these days seems to be jihad during war, let's talk about that one. A quote well known to people who hold anti-Islamic sentiments and that is used numerous times on FOX and various other news media is this quote:

"Fight in the cause of God and slay them wherever you catch them, for God loves not the transgressors" (Qur'an). This is not the entire quote. See below.

There are limits in the Qur'an as to what Muslims are allowed to do in times of war, because the idea is to promote peace wherever peace is possible. A Muslim must never instigate or attack another person or party who has not done harm to them. The only attack deemed acceptable is self-defense. Muslims consider these boundaries to be set by God and transgressing these limits will mean suffering the consequences. 

Here is the quote in its entirety and full context:

"Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors. And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter... But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful... If they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression" (Qur'an 2:190-193).

As you can see, the context completely changes the meaning of the quote. "The transgressors" refer not to the party Muslims are fighting but rather to Muslims who slaughter them unjustly. If peace is offered, Muslims must accept it. Not doing so is going against God's command.

In America at least we're not in battle every day, so  let's look at some examples of what I like to call "everyday life" jihad. Here are several examples cited in the ahadeeth (sayings and actions of Muhamed during his lifetime) that illustrate what I am talking about. These are examples of people asking if they should fight in battle, and Muhamed advises them to do things that are better for them.
  • Aisha, wife of the Prophet asked, "O Messenger of Allah, we see jihad as the best of deeds, so shouldn't we join it?" He replied, "But, the best of jihad is a perfect hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah)." Sahih Al-Bukhari #2784
At another occasion a man asked the Prophet Muhammad:
  • "Should I join the jihad?" He asked, "Do you have parents?" The man said, "Yes!" The Prophet said, "then strive by (serving) them!" Sahih Al-Bukhari #5972
Yet another man asked the Messenger of Allah:
  • "What kind of jihad is better?" He replied, "A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler!" Sunan Al-Nasa'i #4209
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad said:
  • "... the mujahid (one who carries out jihad) is he who strives against himself for the sake of obeying Allah, and the muhajir (one who emigrates) is he who abandons evil deeds and sin." Sahih Ibn Hibban #4862 

    Context is everything, I can not stress this enough. People see Muslims on the news crying and shouting "Allahu Akbar" God is great, and talking about how they love Jihad. It scares people. If I thought Jihad meant what a majority of the world population thought it meant, I would be scared too.

    For Muslims, jihad is beautiful. It is the struggle to transform yourself into a better person before God.

    This is one reason why the word gets so much press. Muslims love talking about it and the rest of the world doesn't know what it means. It's perfect! But that is partly our fault. As Muslims we should fight to defuse these confusions, but it becomes difficult if no one believes you. People tend to believe a man on the TV telling lies more than a person on the street telling the truth. I think it's a great form of jihad to inform people about things that are misunderstood, and correct peoples misconceptions. I personally do not like being judged for using a term correctly and being punished for someone else's misnomer (thanks again Pope Urban, we owe you one.)

    Speaking of the crusades, look up Salah-el Din Yusuf ibn Ayub (also known as Saladin-yes, the one in Kingdom of Heaven but better) while you're at it. He performed a great example of jihad (fighting justly and showing mercy) during the crusades when Richard the Lion Heart fell sick. He brought him ice water in the dessert. THE DESSERT. As well as his finest physicians. He did not take advantage of him while he was weak and injured, nor when Richard's horse was killed from under him. Instead he sent him his own horse to save Richard the embarrassment of meeting him on foot.

    To learn more on Jihad (or anything really) make sure that when presented with information that your sources are cited.  The sources are cited so that you can check for yourself. Some people cite information and when you go to look for it it ends up being false or out of context, as the quotes from the Qur'an above. Unless it is cited I would recommend considering it to be invalid until proven cited by a reliable source. 

    As Muslims we even have something called "weak ahadith", meaning ahadeeth whose authenticity has fallen under question. For example, a hadeeth by Aisha, the wife of Muhamed who is known for her strong ahadeeth and has given over 3000 of them, has way more authenticity than "Bob" who heard something from someone's neighbour's aunt this one time. Normally those are dismissed, and if they are used, they are labeled as weak so people are aware. 

    Many problems Muslims face today are people saying the first thing that pops into their head that they heard from someone or something that knows nothing about Islam, or Muslims, and did not cite any sources. I don't know why these people think they know what they are talking about, or why other people choose to listen to them without questioning any of their information or where they got it from. It is simply illogical to me. I hope this has been an insightful "lesson" on Jihad, and if you have any further questions you may ask them in comments or messages and I will do my best to answer them or direct them to a scholar who can. Thanks for your time. Really, thank you for listening.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Gaza Project 4: Vote for Your Favourite Images

I've decided that with every GAZA PROJECT related post I write I will put up a new image that I have created intended for a poster (and maybe even billboard insha Allah, we will see!). There will be two categories to vote for:

1. THE GAZA PROJECT posters that you already know and love (like the one below), which I will continue updating.
2. THE GAZA PROJECT logo. This will be indicated by having the words "The Gaza Project" dominating the image (see the two previous posts for examples I have created already) to spread awareness of the project itself.

After I put up a significant amount of the images I'll make a poll and you can VOTE for your favourites. Then out of those favourites you can choose the top 5. If things go well insha Allah you can choose 1 out of the 5 to make billboard size! So get your friends to Subscribe and see who wins the competition. It should be fun so stay tuned!

On another GAZA PROJECT note, I was inspired by some old signs my mother taught me about that were used to sell real-estate.  They were quite popular several years back and caught peoples attentions on billboards with their humour. The signs read "If you lived here, you'd be home by now" with an arrow pointing to the land for sale, implying that if they had bought up that spot they wouldn't have to keep driving. Clever. I took a different spin on it, using the same phrase as it would be intended for billboards as well, but using images of demolished Palestinian homes in Gaza, but of course can refer to all the Palestinian homes being demolished on a daily basis. Here is an example.

I feel it works on many levels, as if saying if you lived here, this is what reality would be for you, as well as the key words "if you lived" being separate, implying that if you could even survive that is. Home in a large font strikes a chord with me. Is this what you would want or accept your home to be for you and your family? Home, where all your memories are stored, being one day crushed to the grown by a caterpillar tractor. As usual let me know what you think in the comments below. May Allah bless and protect all who struggle in HIS name and all who suffer under the hands of mankind, Ameen.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Gaza Project 4: Results of Subscribing

Thank you to those who Subscribed and went beyond Subscribing and have taken this cause to heart. I know several of you have sent it out to all your friends. A big thanks to M for sending it to over 200 people! For those of you who created a blog just to Subscribe, I deeply appreciate you taking the few minutes out of your day to help out a worthy cause. Often times taking five extra minutes to do something keeps people from doing it. Thank You for seeing the bigger picture here. Whether you are new to this cause or are a life-long supporter of it, I welcome you. Please feel free to comment with any feedback you might have for me, whether it's about something you like or something you didn't like. Just a reminder to please keep the criticism constructive! I have been keeping track of the amount of traffic that has been coming through the site this past week and I am excited to say that the rate is increasing. Please keep the momentum going! Thanks for all your help! Insha Allah together we can make this a success for the people of Gaza, Palestine, and all who suffer oppression in the world, Ameen.

The Gaza Project 3: The Element of Subscribe

I don't like asking for Subscriptions, but I want people to understand the importance and value and power a subscription has as far as the internet community goes. The more subscriptions the more weight this site carries. People will see that it has a following and causes worth caring about like the newly established GAZA PROJECT, which is especially important being that it is non-profit. With that said...

Your Homework:
1. Don't know how to Subscribe? Click [FOLLOW] on the side bar :)
2. Don't have a blog to Subscribe with? No problem, you can make one in less than 5 min!
Just go to www.blogspot.com to get one for FREE.
3. Don't like something in the blog? Tell me why in a comment so I can fix it.
Extra Credit:
Let me know how you found my blog in the poll on the side bar. Thanks! :)

I'd like to thank the rush of people who have been visiting my blog the past few days as well as those who have shared it with your friends or posted it on a board on Facebook or YouTube. I would like to ask for one more thing from you, [if you are dedicated to my blog and want THE GAZA PROJECT to succeed,, please Subscribe!] Even if you don't find this site worthy, tell me why in a comment and I will improve it. I am pretty much going off of 4 subscriptions and no feedback. I would love to see more subscriptions and know people are paying attention to this cause. If you felt it was worth while to share it with friends (thank you, again) then please Subscribe! And ask your friends to subscribe as well. If you did not or weren't going to subscribe because you don't have a blog, you can set one here in less than 5 minutes  www.blogspot.com.
I am trying to get at least 1000 subscriptions in order to ask for funding as paying out of pocket is extremely expensive. Many of the posters I am making I can not make as big as I want, and I am worried that with the material they are made of people will just destroy them as easily as I put them up (see below post on THE GAZA PROJECT). If you find this a worthy cause please help me out, it's as easy as a push of a button. Thank you in advance to all who subscribe.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Gaza Project 2: (Some of) My Images

These are the images I have created thus far using text and images I have chosen for this project. Feel free to click on the image as it will enlarge it and give you a better quality. Sorry for the small scale, it won't stay large when I upload it for some reason.
(These images are meant to be read from Right to Left as you would be driving by. Please leave any comments or suggestions. My Goal is to one day get these images as big as billboards or on the side of buildings insha Allah. Dream big!)

(Although I know it is expensive, perhaps I can get enough support to fund it insha Allah. Please tell your friends and family. -Picture of IDF attacking Turkish Flotilla on right, resulting in many deaths, and Turkish funeral for those lost on Left.)

(Here is an example of the more informative ones.)

(Remember to read from Right to Left. A cancer victim who died because she could not get to a hospital in time due to Israeli blockades and laws.)

(On the left, Turkish Flotilla about to be attacked by Israeli soldiers from their boat on the right.)
Please keep Gaza, Palestine, and all who suffer under occupation, all the children, all the men and women, the elderly, the poor, in your prayers, and if it is in your heart then please pray that this project becomes a success insha Allah. Jazakallah Kheirun.)

The Gaza Project

Because of the ties Israel shares with the United States, and the United States is one of the five permanent members on the UN Security Council, any time Israel's tactics are in question the subject is automatically vetoed by America and never up for discussion.The frustration and anguish I and many others feel on this subject has been bottled up for two long, and humanitarian aid has tried to reach Gaza by land, by air, and now by sea. I am sure most of you have heard about the Turkish Flotilla headed to Gaza. You may click on the link to find out more or type in "Turkish Flotilla" in your search bar to find out more. 6 ships of poets, journalists, authors, men, women, and children set out from several countries. Those countries included Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey, which made up the majority of the people. These brave civilians embarked on a journey to the Gaza Strip, a small piece of land wedged between the Egyptian and Israeli border, and occupied by the State of Israel. Their goal was to bring items from much needed food, fresh drinking water, to the simplest things like building materials and toys for children that have been banned from entering the country due to a severe illegal blockade set up by the Israeli government that has not been lifted since the Israeli Siege in December 2008. The ships went through customs before departure to ensure they were not harbouring any weapons or trained military officials, only ordinary people. Only distraught civilians who could no longer watch as Gaza suffocates at the hands of Israeli injustice. Upon approaching the border, even though their departure and plans had been openly broadcast several weeks in advance, they slowed their ships down as it was night and did not want to seem as if they were sneaking in or be confronted by Israeli armed forces. Still in international waters, they were attacked by a small Israeli military boat as well as a helicopter and boarded. They were shot at and at least 9 people were killed within the first hour and many more wounded. The death toll rose as those with severe injuries were not able to get the medical attention they needed and succumbed to their wounds. This sounds like a nightmare in itself, but as they were in international waters it also makes this attack, along with most attacks by Israeli Defense Forces illegal.

What I am calling The Gaza Project for now is a series of images I have created and plan to blow up big enough to post on the sides of roads and street corners so that when people drive by they can see them and read them. Many posters are simple, some with images only to capture the essence of what is going on. Some are simple to provoke curiosity in the subject in hopes that people will want to learn more when they go home. It is simply to spread awareness and to call out to anyone who has a heart to help stop the massacre that has been happening in Palestine for over 60 years. I am starting with the Turkish Flotilla as it is most relevant at this time and is still in the news and will continue with other issues as there are a myriad to choose from (Israeli government bulldozing Palestinian homes, ancient olive trees, arresting and molesting Palestinian children, preventing the sick and pregnant to reach a hospital across illegal checkpoints resulting in many unnecessary casualties....the list goes on forever).
Israel has thought for too long that it can do whatever it wants without any repercussions, and has moved from torturing and killing innocent Palestinians to now attacking other nations' civilians in international waters! It is time to put an end to it. it is time to say NO to Israel.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ms. America

Running out the door late for class as usual, I jumped into the elevator and just barely made it in as it was closing (I try and make my 007 appearances as much as possible). Catching my breath as the elevator door closed, my neighbour who was standing next to me struck up a conversation about the Ms. America pageant that had just finished. Even though I've lived in California my entire life, being the person I am, I was clueless to most of the popular things going on in America, aside from watching LOST online, I don't have much of a connection and my friends frequently joke with me about this. My neighbour, a larger woman in her late fifties, asked me if I had seen the Ms. America pageant last night. I smiled as usual and shook my head saying that I hadn't and that I've never actually seen one. She exclaimed, " Ohhh a Muslim girl won!". Shocked, my mouth hung open in a half gasp half laugh, I set my two ton bag on the hand-rail in disbelief. Here I had this delusional image of a beautiful hijabi girl clothed in a long flowing white gown, graciously accepting some kind of award. Her family would be in the front row cheering her on, and little children would come bringing her roses while a dozen doves are released in her honour. There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house. Obviously I have no idea how these things worked. No sooner was I beaming when my neighbour added, "yeah she wore a bikini!" It was one of those daydream moments where you're listening to beautiful music and then you hear the record scratch and fall off the track. "Oh.." I said, awakening abruptly. "Yeah..." she said giving me an off look. "That's not very traditional...is it?" she asked me sincerely. I looked at her and smiled "Oh, no, not really...at all...". She nodded and said, "well, I like the way you dress!" as she left the elevator and the doors closed behind her. Surprised at her genuine liking of my loose long clothes and my hijab covering my hair, I felt the respect that I rarely feel with other Americans, and many times other Muslims who don't wear hijab. I felt really good about myself. Of course people will disagree with my choice to wear it, but I wear it for Allah. It doesn't phase me from wanting to wear it. But it is a wonderful feeling, and almost a relief when someone not only accepts your right to wear, respects your right to wear it, but actually admires you for wearing it. I would be lieing if I said I've received no hostility or harassment from people because of how I dress. I feel out of place in many settings where women walk around in loud clicking high-heals, bikinis, dresses the sizes of t-shirts, or jeans so tight and make-up so thick they may as well be painted on. But I also feel proud in those settings. Proud that I can still feel beautiful without baring it all, or highlighting my face with make-up, and I don't know many western women who would feel comfortable enough to go out of the house in the morning without at least some eyeliner and lipstick. They attract attention superficially, and I attract attention in another way. A personal way. I attract attention with the way I speak and use my mind. I attract attention with my actions. I attract attention with my character. With my hijab I feel there's a light around me protecting me as I walk, and I feel so close to Allah the One Creator. Someone once argued with me that beauty should be shared with everyone and not hidden. I told him it's my choice not to "share" my body, and if he thinks beauty is only on the outside, well that's unfortunate for him! Thank You to all the Muslims and especially the non-Muslims who give us your support, and thank you for having the courage to tell us you admire the way we are. Jazakallah Kheirun.

Friday, April 2, 2010

YouTube to Life

Yesterday I saw someone commented on a video I posted on YouTube. It was a beautiful recitation of Suratul Imran, the surah about Mariam Um Isa (Mary the mother of Jesus), may Allah be pleased with her). I was happily reading through the comments enjoying that it had comforted and relaxed many people when one caught my eye. A person said that this surah (Qur'anic chapter), Surat al-Imran, happened to be her favourite surah. Someone responded just below it (it doesn't matter who) "not being rude but how can you have a favourite surah". I replied by saying that, " This happens to be one of my favourite surat as well. All of the Qur'anic verses speak to our hearts with every word, but there are some that reach deeper to different people at times. Just as Muhamed (saw) told us of the qualities of Ayatul Kursi and how it is the best ayah. I would praise our brother or sister in Islam for finding this surah so precious." I then got a reply saying "I knw what your saying bro but i just want to say that all of the verses and surahs are beautiful but you are righty though." Besides the fact that I'm a sis not a bro, let's think about what happened in that quick exchange of words between us three people. One person said something positive. The next person said something positive but in a seemingly negative tone. The third person (aka me) tried to compromise between the two. Just think about all the interpreting that went on and the weight we put on other peoples words. Before they replied I thought they were attacking what the other person was saying, because of other experiences I have had with people who seem to find something negative to peck out of every sentence you say. I definitely do not want to be one of those people, and do not see myself as one, al7amdolillah. And I felt that I did not attack the other person in what they had said but neutrally gave my advice on how I would react. How ever I did feel a certain way about it, and I felt that this person was simply trying to stir up trouble. Now that the person responded I feel completely different about what they could have meant, and rather than seeing bluntness or harshness in the phrase I see perhaps a lack of knowledge of the English language. I know whenever I speak a different language I am usually as blunt as possible, just to make sure what I am trying to say gets through, and it can often come off as harsh. We really need to be careful about what we say, how we say it, and how we listen to what others are trying to tell us. There's a saying about looking through life with a positive lens, meaning you'll see a positive outcome no matter what is ahead of you. There are many different kinds of lenses. The same goes with listening. If you have a conversation with a certain kind of, I don't know what, headphones on that filter out what you don't want to hear, you're only get half of the story and doing injustice to the speaker as well as yourself. We're only human. Instead of listening like a hawk to make sure so-and-so gives the "correct" response, make sure that you are listening correctly. May Allah guide us to not judge so quickly or too harshly, to support each other in every positive thing we do, and bond us through our mistakes, not divide us. Ameen.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


This is a picture of some baklava I made and I was so excited I just felt like sharing. I filled them with walnuts, dates, chocolate, and honey. Sweet enough for you? I've had four today and I think I'm ready to curl up and sleep for two weeks. Insha Allah I will give you the recipe soon but I am right in the middle of studying arabic and trying to memorize the Istikhara (the du3a/prayer one says when asking Allah for guidance when you're not sure if you should do a thing or not). I'm so excited! I will write about the Istikhara and memorizing different prayers in the upcoming posts I make insha Allah. Take Care, God bless you, and happy cooking!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Palestinians Donate to Haiti

The Earthquake in Haiti has effected the lives of thousands. For many others it has reminded others how precious life is and how thankful we should be every day for what we have. To review the damage and extent of this catastrophe on an already poorly conditioned  nation, I made a video and posted it on YouTube. After reading so many articles on the problems that followed (many having to do with illness spreading do to unsanitary conditions and infrastructure instability and people living in tents and shacks) I started really thinking about the similarities between the effects of this natural disaster in Haiti and the siege on Ghaza. Both horrible outcomes with thousands killed and thousands suffering. I posted this video comparing the two on YouTube in hopes that people will contribute their donations to Haiti, and if they see fit to donate to Haiti they would not resist the Palestinians the same rights. In the beginning of the video at around 00:20 there is a link you can click showing people in Ghaza donating what little they have to help Haitians get back on their feet. I found it a very emotional scene when people under the same conditions are giving up their means of living to help those they sympathize with and understand their condition. Please watch. Jazakallah Kheir. May God reward you for your contributions and help.


U.S. Condemns Israel?

March is almost gone and the U.S.-Israeli alliance is making headlines in a teetering relationship that I thought I would never be alive to see. After Israel's "military offensive" in Ghaza in December 2008 in which 13,000 Palestinians were killed (along with 13 Israeli soldiers), Israel got a slap on the wrist from the United States, who still remained on their side during the initial U.N. vote when it came to sanctioning Israel's actions. Two weeks ago when Vice President Biden of the U.S. visited Israel to construct peace talks, Israel announced the continuation of 1,600 new Jewish settlements to be built in East Jerusalem. An "anger march" erupted in Syria while Biden had to keep Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waiting over an hour before dinner while he figured out how to address the sudden announcement. "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel. We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them." I bet that dinner was intense. Perhaps my generation will live long enough to see a time when Israel can't do anything it wants. We'll see. insha Allah.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Putting Palestine on the Map

A day to remember Ghaza and put Palestine's struggle out into view. Join me in praying for Ghaza, for Palestine, and for all good people who struggle under tyranny and corruption. Pray that the little we can do to help in the present inspires others to do the same in the future, and in turn make a difference in the world that we share. May Allah keep them strong and protect them and help all of us on our paths in life no matter how different they may be, Ameen.

I've listed several websites on the sidebar (to the right) that are helpful if you would like to contact anyone for information, fund-raising, protests, etc..

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Power of Imagery

I made this image out of a photograph I found of a woman in Ghaza standing up to a group of Israeli soldiers who bombed her village. I did not alter the content of the image, only the colour scheme and hugh, and adding a part of a poem I wrote in the backdrop. I found it to be a very strong image without any alteration, and a great symbolism of what I believe to be representative of the caliber of women in Islam that is too often overlooked and ignored. I have been creating more images lately, some with words, some simply defining the tone or texture of an image. It's therapeutic in a way for me to convey how I feel through imagery and words. The images often say what the words cannot.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

O' Qibla Where Art Thou?

A few days ago I was sitting at the gas station behind the counter with two of the employees, my brothers in Islam as well as my dear friends. Asr prayer was approaching and I went to make wuzu (ablution) as they took my place behind the counter. When I came back, ready to pray, I heard one of them taunting the other. "He doesn't know where Kaba is", he told me. I looked up at my friend with quizzical yet sincere eyes, "you don't?". He smiled shyly and a bit embarrassed and stuttered trying to think of some excuse, but it wasn't necessary. I turned to the other and said, "So why don't you tell him where it is?". Then he looked down laughing a bit caught off his guard. He said "I kept telling him he's praying the wrong way, and that he should be facing this way", he said pointing over my shoulder. "But he wouldn't listen". I looked at both of their stubborn faces as they stared grinning at each-other, cousins! "Okay", I said sitting back up on the stool behind the counter and gesturing towards the laptop in front of me with my palm, "Why don't we look it up?" My friend who said he knew which way to pray hopped on the laptop and typed in how to find the direction on google. After figuring out where our location was on the map and which angle to point the screen, we came up with the solution that although my friend had been wrong, my other friend was slightly off course himself, just by a few degrees. True, now if I ever have to pray in the gas station I know which direction to face, but my point is people get so defensive about little things that they forget about helping each other. And if you tell someone and they don't listen and you blame them for not heeding your advice, what if your advice is wrong? What then? These two friends are like my family, and I'd never hold it against them, they are simply an example of every day habits we all develop over time. Maybe we do this most to people we love and care about, because we know that they will love us unconditionally. Perhaps we become stubborn in our ways because we live in America, and we want to show that we're holding onto our faith and we know what we're talking about. But in doing that, sometimes we just prove the opposite. Sure my other friend could have checked online, but perhaps he didn't know that it was available online, I certainly didn't. Some people don't even have computers let alone internet, and maybe even electricity is not as readily available as we might think. It's a luxury we often take for granted. Listed below is a link that can guide you electronically towards the direction of the Kaba once you've typed in your location. But remember, if you're unsure of the direction at the time of your prayer, give your intentions in your heart that you wish to pray in the direction of the Kaba, Allah knows everything, and Allah is the Most Gracious and Kind.

“On the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions.” [Surah Noor 24:24]

Islam in a Flash!...Card!

Having problems with remembering or learning Islamic vocabulary while living in a non-Islamic environment? Well fear not! I stumbled across this website; using electronic "flashcards" it allows you to find out the meanings of words you're not sure about, maybe words you forgot, or learn new words all together! I've only tried a handful so far but there must be thousands of words to learn from. A great website and a wonderful tool for reverts as well as Muslims who want to freshen up on their arabic. Also nice for anyone who is curious about what words like "jihad" or "Islam" actually mean!

Al Mu'minun

"Until, when death comes to one of them, he says, ‘O my Lord. Send me back to life. In order that I may do good deeds in the things that I neglected.’ By no means! It is but a word he says. And before them is a barzakh until the day they are raised up." (Qur'an Al Mu’minun ; 99-100)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

GTMO Guard Turns to Islam

Trying to take my mind off the fact that I'm sick and brain-drained alone at home, I was looking through some articles over the internet, checked my email, the usual. Finally on seeing I had no new messages I logged off of it. I was so frustrated because my computer keeps changing the defaults I set it to. At this point it had set the msn homepage to my default web-browser. What does this have to do with anything, besides me complaining about unimportant minor details of my life? Well actually, because the default was sent to that particular setting I came across this article called "The Guard who Found Islam". Naturally this Caucasian Muslim brother with the large inserted hoop earing caught my attention. Apparently the guard Terry Holdbrooks, who was an Army Specialist, now served in the Guantanamo Bay prison and during his stay he spoke to some of the prisoners. Looking back on his life, Terry had two drug-addict parents and was riddled with tattoos all over his body, and at one point he became an alcoholic before he entered into the army around the beginning of the war in Iraq. Later on as a guardsman when there was nothing or little to do in his shifts he sat down across from the prisoners on the floor, seperated by the bars of the cells, and began to talk. Their conversations entertained his curiosity long enough that not only did he develope a sort of relationship with the prisoners, but he began to question the necessity of his job, and even the necessity or at least the complete credibility of the prison and holding these men as prisoners (of which other guardsmen have seemingly shared the same questions as far back as 2002), but he also began to feel some of his own inner questions arising. He began asking them questions about their religion, and even started ordering in books on arabic and about Islam. One fine day, a conversation led to the shahada, the Testimony of Faith. He slid over a pen and a piece of paper to one of the prisoners he had become accustomed to talking with, Ahmed Errachidi (*who was released in 2007*), and who shared a mutual respect, and asked him to write down what it meant in english as well as the arabic transliteration. He spoke the words and he converted to Islam. May Allah guide him away from his troubled past and give his heart and mind peace in his findings.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Great Women of Islam (Who Were Given the Great News of Paradise)

I am currently reading Great Women in Islam, by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar, revised by Sheikh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, edited by Muhammad Ayub Sapra and Muhammad Farooq, and translated by Jamila Muhammad Qawi.
This book is amazing. I am truly in love with all of these women I read about. They truly are the mothers of Islam with their timeless genuine character and their love for their deen. The utter strength of these women astounds me and I am constantly beaming throughout the entire book. There is sadness however, for their lives do end physically, but they will live in our memory forever. Please, read this book. Mothers, I recommend this for your children, sons and daughters. To any men looking for a wife I recommend you look for their characterstics or a father raising a daughter I suggest you teach them. How can you go wrong? These are the best of women! With the status of women in the world today, it is so refreshing to have such strong and independent women who are still so feminin and the best of companions (independent meaning strong willed but who still cooperate so well with others). This book covers the wives of the prophet in his lifetime, the prophets daughter Fatima, the Um Isa (Maryam/Mary mother of Jesus), the wife of the pharoah who, at a time when the pharoah was slaying all the first born of the hebrews, decided to raise Musa (Moses) and care for him as her own, and whereby was allowed through her nurturing and support, become a prophet, and one of the first women to accept his teachings. I can't cover this whole book and do it justice, it just brings tears to my eyes and I feel so full in my heart. This book makes you want to become a better person, and let's you know you can, from the most humble upbringings. I will share with you excerps from the book and keep you posted. I'm so excited! Really I recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt helpless or alone in the world. Take these women as an example of what you can achieve when you try hard enough. May Allah be pleased with them all, and may Allah be pleased with us in this life and the life to come insha Allah. Ameen.

I Saw A Woman in the Rain

A few days ago on my way home from class one night I waited underneath a canopy roof. The rain poured down the bricks like a river being thrown against the wall. It was a beautiful storm that let us see the wind as it blew and which flickered with light. I saw two elders speaking with one another, a man and a woman, and I heard the words being asked to the professor that perked up my ears as we stood waiting for the storm to end. In hearing those words I turned in their direction and watched the professor leave. A much longer time after, when the storm had not yet ceased and people grew tired of waiting, I walked over to the elderly couple who were dawning their rain gear to forge out into the harshness of the weather. I stood opposite them and spoke up hesitantly, because I had no idea what I was going to say. "Sorry to bother you, but did I hear you ask about a translation of the Qur'an?" I ended up saying. Either intentionally or by accident, she didn't give me a straight answer on the subject. It was dark, but it seemed as though they had stopped smiling when I came over. I then added, "there are many many translations you know, but only one Qur'an, which is in arabic, and you can always go back and check it. If it seems like the translation is wrong or what you are reading does not fit, you know what else you can do to check? "What?" she asked, she probably could have cared less but I like to think she was interested. At least I had her attention now. I reached for the strap on my backpack to take it off and write something down for them , but stopped when I noticed they looked annoyed. I continued. "Do you know what ahadith are?" She didn't know. "They are the words and acts of the prophet Muhammed (saw) when he was alive, dictated by those closest to him. They were recorded through history, and he is the best example of a Muslim and the source Muslims go to for guidance if there is an interpretation or meaning that is unclear in the Qur'an, like...beating women is a big contraversy in the media all the time, whether or not it says in the Qur'an that men are allowed to beat their wives. Some people say yes, some people say no, but if you look at Muhamed (saw) you would know right away that he never "beat his wives" in todays meaning of the term, never got close to it and was upset by it really...". This wasn't going anywhere. She did agree that it was smart to go back to the source, even if she did seem irritated at my presents, and seeing that they were ready to brave the storm, I quickly recommended to them the English translation of the Qur'an I had first read when I came to Islam three years ago (al7amdolillah). The translation is by Ahmed Ali, and gives good footnotes, multiple ways of explaining the interpretations through science, philosophy, history, and does a good job of explaining the concepts derived from the arabic words. The couple smiled and we went our seperate ways, and as I turned my head to see them from afar, they held still, resuming their previous descussion, disregarding whatever it was that I had said. I ran down the hill as the rivers of rain ran with me, streaming and rippling with a snakelike rythm, and the loudness of the rain sent shivers down my spine. You know that the power of Allah is always with you, but on some days you can feel it more than others. I reached my car, soaked to the bone, and drove home through the blinding rain. Today, I returned to my class. I opened the door, returned a smile to the gregorious elderly British man who sits in the corner, took off my backpack, and was eyeing the room for my seat when I saw a hand waving in the air. I turned my eyes in that direction and I saw the elderly woman smiling up at me in the front row. "Oh hello" I said, smiling that she had even acknowledged my existence. Without even returning the greeting, though out of excitement rather than rudeness, she asked me "is this the one you were talking about?". She showed me a book with that beautiful familiar cover-art from the Ahmed Ali's translation of the Qur'an. Green with gold design. I smiled inside and out and nodded, yes that was the one. "Wow...you have it..." I said slowly while beaming. She smiled explaining that this is the one she had "had all along". Sub7anallah. I smiled and joked, yet with the utmost sincerity, "I guess it was meant to be then, no?" She chuckled and agreed, "I guess it must be"..."Thank You" she added. I returned to my seat, and watched from afar, the elderly woman who was blessed, as I was blessed, on her journey in reading the greatest book in the world. May Allah guide her, and may Allah guide us all. Ameen.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chechnya and Ahmed Kadyrov

As the Chechen resistance battles on against the occupation of Russia and the threat to humanity it imposes every day to innocent civilians all throughout Chechnya, I came across this picture of some Russian officials and Ramzan Kadyrov, the man in the middle of the photograph without a hat. Some of you may know of him. Of Chechen descent, his father Ahmed Kadyrov is known for being a traitor and allying with the Russians in the Chechen-Russian conflict. Ramzan adopted these traits from his father and became even more brutal and more cruel than could be imagined. He's known for his temper and has a quick trigger finger when he doesn't get his way. In one scenario he was seen fighting a man who cut him in a line, so he shot him. Another time someone didn't share his chalk cube in a game of pool, so he shot him. The puppet government put in charge in Chechnya by the Russian government are no more than barbaric brutes given a real country with real people to play with like a doll-house and dolls. As you can imagine he has killed many innocent Chechen civilians under the orders of Putin, the former Prime-minister of Russia, as well as on his own accord. He has received many awards and medals of honour from Putin, and has even been appointed the president of Chechnya, not democratically voted in by the Chechen people of course. The Chechens have their own government secretly underground that continue to fight for the resistance. This real Chechen government, with figures who were elected by the Chechens, is not readily acknowledged by a majority of the rest of the world, and unfortunately Ramzan Kadyrov still has a lot of power in regards to what happens to the Chechen people. My heart and prayers go out to them, may they be protected from the corruption that is the Russian government and military and may the worlds eyes finally be open to the truth. Anyone with a heart and brain could see these people are not terrorists. It is the government of Russia who causes terror beyond belief. If you are one of those people out there who are against the crimes against humanity that Israel causes and are aware of the situations in Palestine and other countries but have not heard of Chechnya, please learn more about Chechnya as it goes through just as much torture and crimes against humanity, and the only way to counter that is to educate yourself and others so it will be stopped.
Some other heartbreaking images I've come across were these plooms of smoke and flashes of streaking light across the night sky in Gaza. Although these photos are of course dating back to the siege in December 2008 they show the entire world that Israel has used WHITE PHOSPHORUS against men women and children in Gaza.

White phosphorus is illegal under international law for the same horrible reasons nerve gas is illegal, which they also used. Many women and children who stayed in the homes during the attack and survived reported seeing smoke come through the doors and windows and in the streets. They thought it was the "regular" tear gas and tried to keep it out as much as possible. But the thing they noticed about this smoke was it was white, and it had a sweet smell to it. They didn't know where the sweet smell was coming from. Later when things had subsided and people gathered something caught their attention. At first it was the children that were seen hopping about, almost as if they were dancing. When they were asked what they were doing they would not respond. Others were seen making these same twitching movements throughout the street and when observed more closely they realized that these people had been exposed to and were suffering the effects of nerve gas. They were experiencing violent convulsions and shaking in agony. Many of them died and others suffered severe and permanent damage to the nervous system. Israel says they used no such thing, but these elements of the sweetness in smell, the colour, and violent shaking all clearly define the effects of nerve gas. On another note, they also deny using white phosphorus when there are photographs and live footage of it being used on civilians. Even if there were no photos or video of this being used, the amount and type of wounds seen rushed into the hospitals in Gaza lead to white phosphorus burns. It baffled the doctors at first. You see, white phosphorus burns. And it is not a regular kind of burn. When white phosphorus makes contact with an object it immediately pulls out the oxygen molecules of the object until it runs out of molecules to react with. Imagine this kind of chemical coming in contact with a person's skin. A natural reaction to sooth a burn victim is to cool the wound with water or ice. In doing so with these victims however, doctors quickly realized that adding water made these victims scream even more in agony, and completely worsened the case of the suffering victim. Adding water means adding more oxygen molecules, and adding more oxygen molecules allows the white phosphorus to burn more, and for a longer period of time, until those molecules get used up. A chemistry teacher told me that one way to perhaps stop the burning is to amputate or freeze with liquid nitrogen, until the limb effected breaks off. This is a nightmare in and of itself. But imagine the men women and children who have burns on their face or eyes or chest or stomach. How to sooth them? There is no answer. There is no soothing and there is no cure. These victims will be burned until the area is unrecognizable, that goes for the face as well. What a complete tragedy that the world stands by watching, with photographs and videotapes while Israel still denies these facts. It is more than heartless. It is more than cruel. It is more than a violation of human rights. It is pretending human rights don't even exist...I can't think of words worse enough to express what Israel gets away with. How can anyone allow this to happen to another human being, let alone do this to another human being. Above you will see some posts about THE GAZA PROJECT I am creating. One sign in particular talks about white phosphorus and a little hand is shown with severe burns...this poor child's wounds are just a fraction of a fraction of the reality of the situation. I chose this image because it is one of the only burn victims I could find that people could possibly stomach enough to look at the sign. It truly breaks my heart and I know it must break yours too. The worlds heart is breaking for Gaza yet we sit with idle hands. The world weeps for Chechnya but we turn the other cheek. We must do something about these crimes. If they go unpunished it's only a matter of time that atrocities like these spread further and further, continually pushing the envelope, until it happens to us. And then where will we be? Please speak out against injustice. Speak out against what is killing our brothers and sisters of this Earth and killing our world. May Allah protect them and us from harm and give us strength to do what is right when the path is clear, Ameen. Jazakallah kheir.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

On Gaza: To the People

│▒│ /▒/
│▒ /▒/─┬─┐

●●GAZA - we all support you●●

Please visit (Warning-link contains graphic violence): http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=bdf_1231004162

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Troubled Times

Last night I kept tossing and turning thinking about the situation of Gaza, of Palestine, and the world. Sometimes there are moments in life (more often than we'd like) where one simply doesn't know what to do. We know what we'd like to do, but are unsure of the outcome or the thing at hand is so great that we can't even (logically) imagine or guess the outcome and weigh our decisions at all. And it's troublesome. If you don't even know how to think let alone what to think...if you can not grasp any logic or start thinking of any solutions...And for some odd reason, for some strange strange reason, the only thing I decided that would help with anything at the present is to make something humorous. Enjoy.
May Allah reward Hamas for their efforts to protect the people of Gaza from Israel's siege, may He keep them from transgressing their means of self defense  into vengeance, and reward all people fighting for Justice in the world. May Allah reward them in this life, and the life to come. Ameen.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Beloved Children of Palestine

Children of Palestine
come to the walls
Press your ears close
and await your freedom
Listen to the trembling ground
Ready your slingshots
and recite the Qur'an
Stand tall like the olive tree
Bend with its branches
Your freedom is coming
For these walls will fall
and if not today
you will fly up as doves and kiss the sky
and forget the torments of this life
In your flight
You will hear a man fall
from his precious tank
carrying weapons
and all of his armor
crushing his spine from his gluttony
and begging
and pleading with God
but God has no mercy for the merciless
You will sore above him
the truth makes his ears bleed
he will be ground to dust
made up again
and be ground to dust
Your freedom is coming
For these walls will fall
and if not today
you will fly up as doves and kiss the sky
and forget the torments of this life
and upon your flight
your people will reclaim your lands
your waters your soil your streams your hills
your plants your animals your stories your history
your people your life your blood your soul
God's land for you will be yours again
and you will testify against those who
stayed in their homes
stayed in their mansions
to throw their money
and count their sons
and who clasped their hands together
in glee
who drank with the enemy
who danced with shaytan
who held hands with evil
and who kissed the cheeks of cruelty
they will awaken with widened eyes
in darkness
clasping their hands together
in utter fear
they did not know this day would come
they did not believe this day would come
yet their testimony is written pulled up on a plank
blowing in the wind made for all to see
but them
You will stand before them
and the truth makes their ears bleed
The trumpet will sound and pierce the sky
but for these men it will pierce their hearts
it will penetrate their temples
crack down their bodies
and split them in two
For that is all they ever were
Remember David
who threw the stone
and killed a man many fold stronger
Who through his faith
Won the battle
Who won the kingdom
O Mighty soldiers
O soldiers of God
Throw your stones
Your freedom is coming
For these walls will fall
and if not today
you will fly up as doves and kiss the sky
and forget the torments of this life