Questions…

In the various interactions I’ve had with elders in my family over the years, this is the summary of the message I have picked up:

“Some of the things you youngsters convey these days are things which we probably didn’t even understand at your age; we simply did what we were told. We listened and followed without question. We didn’t have the education or the tools with which to think intellectually but we had akhlaq, we had manners. We were people of action. The little that we knew, we put into action. And you have all this knowledge which is just wasted.”

Although I detest the “blind soldier” mentality that many of our elders conform to, they don’t lie when they say they were people of action. People of our generation think sagaciously and speak eloquently, but don’t do anything. We voice our opinions and that’s it—it ends there. We don’t change anything.

And the only *wrong* thing our elders did was listen to culture without question, but we can learn from them and listen to Allah without question.

These days everything is up for debate, even the obvious commandments of Allah. And people ask for proofs left and right as if they are scholars. This is not to say that we shouldn’t ask scholars where they derived rulings and follow them blindly, but we should be humble enough to accept some things even if we don’t understand them.

We simply don’t understand the concept of “sami’na wa ata’na” (we hear and we obey) anymore.

New Year’s, New Years

My God. Another year passed. And people talk about this stuff, they write about it. So why not me?

So…for once, I had a good New Year’s. Usually, I visit my relatives’ homes for dinner and people gather ’round the TV 30 min in advance (which is a waste of time in my opinion) and then they count down and scream…3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!! And I’m standing there like -_- bleh, nothing changed. Whatever, okay, let’s move on, y’all.

And this year, there is a reason why I didn’t have that ‘bleh’ attitude–actually, two reasons. One, I’m graduating this year (August inshaAllah) AND I had a good New Year’s eve/Winter Break. I went out with my cousins and her friends and we watched fireworks (albeit while almost freezing to death) and had fun. We played Taboo which was immense fun and ate good meals, Alhamdulillah.

2015 is also the year in which I intend to work and save up money to enroll in a TEFL course inshaAllah so that I can teach abroad, in some Muslim country (but I already kinda know where I wanna go).

2015 is also the year in which I will finally, inshaAllah, get my driver’s license.

2015 is also the year in which I will catch up on an entire year’s worth of LP lessons (see here). I just caught up on Year 1-I just finished the chapter of istinja’ haha…gotta be fun learning about toilet structures with Sh. Abu Eesa.

2015 is also the year in which I have new ways to deal with my family problems under my belt (courtesy of my uni counselor from last semester). SO, that means I will be more stress-free inshaAllah!

So there. A bunch of reasons why 2015 is a good year–full of new things–why it will be a good year, bi idhnillah!

I love my optimism ;)

“Peace”-What I wait for

Allah choosing to call Islam “Islam” is no coincidence: the roots “salama” mean “peace.” If you think about it, peace is worth more than anything else in this world, and I mean emotionally, psychologically worth more. People do all kinds of things to achieve happiness and some get it while others don’t. But peace is different. You can be distressed while being happy, and you can be peaceful while drowning in tears (think weeping upon seeing the Ka’bah or crying in repentance to The Most Merciful or hearing about the death of a loved one in Allah’s cause).

Allah knows that the one thing we crave for, the one thing we look foreverywhere, what we cry for, what we die for…is peace.

He placed it in iman.

He placed it in the proclamation of faith, in the prostration of humility, in the begging for grace. He placed it in the reading of His words, in His remembrance that you count on your fingers. He placed it in talking to Him, crying to Him, praying to Him.

And after all these occasional moments of peace, He promises to drown us in it if we’re steadfast.

Then how can anyone else love us more than Him?

Being a Muslim in America (and Ferguson)

After the 9/11 events and the resultant increase of hate towards Muslims, I grew very impatient. I was impatient because I was young and I didn’t understand why we were being hated as Muslims. I remember once on a 9/11 anniversary, I was going to the mall with my mom and I happened to be wearing an abaya. She told me to take it off because she feared for my safety. I was a little scared when she told me about hate crimes but I was adamant about wearing it and thought about what I had learned in school regarding all dangerous situations, whether physical or spiritual—that if I recited Ayat al-Kursi, Allah would protect me.

He did.

Allah protected me then and He protects me now. He has been protecting those of us who are still safe in our homes.

Fast-forward.

My confusion grew into hate. I was furious about why we were hated as a group, as a community for the actions of a few radicals. But I never expressed it. I was afraid.

But as I read about Ferguson, it reminds me of all the other stories I have read, seen on my dash, heard about in the news—the stories of colored people, and of those with different religions.

America, in all its “glory” and “freedom and justice for all” mottos has forgotten the real meaning behind them—or maybe it just doesn’t care. Maybe the people that are not affected by the injustices that happen to our people, to American people on this soil don’t care as long as it doesn’t affect them. It’s appalling how every time the offender is white and the victim is either Black, Hispanic or Muslim, the victim doesn’t get justice and is sometimes further victimized.

This has to change. Our religion tells us and so does our humanity that we have to speak out against injustice.

May Allah help the marginalized groups in America and all over the world. Ameen.

Ode to the Qur’an

Your navy leather skin was among the first that touched mine.

I traced the gold designs with my fingers, round and round,

Round and round, intricately until the teacher banged her hand on my desk because I had stopped repeating after her.

The mind does wander when one pronounces your words over and over.

It becomes like breathing.

Such a beautiful presence in my life, you were. And you are.

The letters that make up your timeless message were forever enchanting my ears when I heard, my eyes when I read.

I sat in silence, sometimes rhythmically swayed—by accident—and sometimes rocked, back and forth as I recited your stories

Like incantations on my lips.

It was fun to read; like a song you sounded—but no, a song you weren’t.

Passages like poetry that no human could ever write, the twists of your words forever imprinted

In the deepest chasms of my heart.

Sometimes my eyes would close and I’d remember you. In my half-sleep, I’d murmur

Your secrets so that you’d become a part of my dreams.

I held on to you; put your miniature cousin in my school bag,

Your gigantic one on my bookshelf.

You kept climbing the bookshelf,

Higher than I ever intended.

Now you’re a little out of reach. How you managed to achieve that great distance is a mystery.

The flipping of your pages makes a distinct sound—I want to be able to flip them slowly, without

Haste in knowing what you will have to say next.

I want to be able to know without looking at print what messages you want to deliver to me; from my heart

To my mind.

From my mind to my heart.

I long to preserve you forever in the core of my being—not just one part, not two, not three, but all of you.

I wish I could get over myself.

I wish I could control my emotions enough to stop hurting those I love the most. But I can’t. Because I’m irrational. After all the efforts I make, I ruin them in an instant. I spend so much time fighting against the forces that try to destroy my sand wall only to take the bucket of water and dump it myself.

I am imprisoned by my freedom, hindered by my obstacles. I can free myself but I don’t have the courage to. And it’s so much easier to hurt those who hurt me.

But I don’t want to hurt them.

Diversity

There was a time when I couldn’t differentiate between people of different Arab countries, i.e. I couldn’t tell just by looking at someone whether he or she was Saudi, Palestinian, Syrian, Egyptian, etc. I also couldn’t tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. Now I can.

I thank the diversity of the people around me for this gradual (but new found) knowledge that makes me more in tune with my fellow human beings.

Now my goal is to also learn how to identify people from various countries in Africa, some remaining ones in Asia and in South America.

Allah says in Surah Al-Hujurat: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another…” (49:13)

Let the knowing begin!