Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hamas Tunnels?

I ran across this picture on Boston Globe's website. It is among a collection of Eid ul-Adha images.

The next time you hear on the news that these tunnels are for the sole use of Hamas to smuggle whatever through ... think of this Palestinian brother! He's merely trying to bring an animal home to slaughter for the Eid to please Allah (swt) and also to feed his family:

A Palestinian smuggles a sheep into the Gaza Strip through a tunnel under the Egypt-Gaza border at Rafah on December 5, 2008. The Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice which commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God starts Dec. 8 during which sheep are traditionally slaughtered. The Rafah border post with Egypt is the only crossing into Gaza not controlled by Israel, which has enforced a blockade on the territory since Hamas, which Israel regards as a terrorist group, seized power there in 2007. (SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fully a Muslim!

This is a picture of me sitting on Santa's lap, taken when I was 3 1/2 years old.

I used it when I wrote this article for IslamOnline.

The main gist of the article was about the grief process and the loneliness experienced by some reverts to Islam around the non-Muslim holidays such as Christmas. And how, for various reasons, our new brothers and sisters in Islam somehow do not replace the family and warmth many of us have lost by abandoning our faiths to become Muslims.

In the article, I stated:

"The single most difficult part of the grief process was, and continues to be, non-Muslim holidays. Not only the Christian and Jewish holidays, but also the secular ones: New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, anniversaries, birthdays, and my favorite of them all, April Fool's Day!"

I have crossed over a threshold since that article was written. I no longer miss the non-Muslim holidays. Alhamdulillah!

I'm not sure exactly when it happened. But it came together for me tonight while I was reading a blog post by a Jewish blogger friend of mine named Bar Kochba. He has a few blogs but the post that caught my eye tonight was at his The Truth About Moshiach blog. The post title is Not Afraid to Be Unique.

Bar Kochba references an article in the online edition of The Jerusalem Post by Matthew Wagner titled, "Santa Claus and Judah Macabee Join Forces in TA 'End of Year' Fair." There is an interesting observation noted in Wagner's article by the owner of the Israeli Marzipan Museum:

Tamir Peled, the owner of the Marzipan Museum, whose products are under the kashrut supervision of the Lower Galilee Rabbinate, said that this Christmas there has been a sharp rise in demand from Jewish Israelis for marzipan in Christmas shapes, such as Santa Claus.

"In the past all our requests were for Jewish symbols like Magen David, shofars, apples in honey and the tablets of the Ten Commandments," said Peled. "But recently Israelis who have lived abroad or who are influenced by American TV want to celebrate Christmas."

"So far we have not gotten any orders to make marzipan crosses. But maybe that will happen, too."

Peled said that Israelis want to celebrate Christmas because they do not want to feel culturally isolated from the rest of the world.

"Celebrating only Hanukka set us apart, makes us different. People don't want to feel that way. They want to be part of world," she said.

Somehow, this all reminded me of my childhood. My mother was Catholic and my father was Jewish. We celebrated the religious traditions of both faiths in our household. I guess my parents thought that they could maintain an interfaith home.

For my Jewish grandmother, it was different. I remember asking her why she didn't have a tree in her house at Christmas. She told me it was because she was Jewish and that Christmas trees were for Christians. "That's what they do," she told me. "We're different." It was that simple. Religiously, my grandmother didn't want to be "part of the world." She didn't want to fit in. She wanted only to be Jewish. She was unique.

Unfortunately, I didn't experience that personal acceptance at that time in my life. I truly feel it was due to being raised in a home where there was no true religious commitment to one faith. Maybe adults can get with the concept of tolerance and an interfaith atmosphere, but I believe that children need an identity. Children need to know who they are. As a child, I KNEW that my mother was Catholic. And I KNEW that my father was Jewish. But I didn't know who I was. Once my father started to take me to the synagogue, it got a little better. I started to identify as being Jewish. But there was always the "other side" of my family. Us and Them.

My parents divorced when I was 11 years old. We moved to another state where my mother's people lived. I was separated from my father and my Jewish family. My mother put me in a Catholic school and I was raised as a Catholic until I was an older teenager and of the age where I could embrace Judaism again. But when I was old enough to marry, I didn't marry Jewish man. Looking back, I always practiced my religion alone. Yes, with others in the synagogues and temples, but still alone. Everyone else had Jewish family. Except me.

I found Islam in 1998 and I am now a Muslim. I identify as being Jewish in ethnicity only. Like I said, I don't know exactly when it happened, but I feel that I have resolved my grief process. I feel fully Muslim! I have no desire to religiously or culturally be part of the non-Muslim world.

I am unique. Like my grandmother was.

I have a Muslim husband, Alhamdulillah, and am not alone in my faith.

I don't miss Christmas or any other non-Muslim holiday anymore. I now look forward to the Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha holidays.

I know that new Muslims and even some not-so-new reverts to Islam still experience problems in this area. I say dua that they too will cross the treshhold as I have and become totally integrated into the Muslim ummah/Ameen!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dale (Jamaluddin) Marcell - And Some Thoughts About Music in Islam

Sound Vision has announced the passing of our Muslim brother Dale (Jamaluddin) Marcell who was the leader of the Fletcher Valve Drummers.

Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon.

The Sound Vision article states, "The layers of rhythm and energetic percussions of the Fletcher Valve Drummers brought a new dimension to the live Nasheed / Musical stage in the Muslim community. Dale and his group were the all-time favourites at MuslimFest in Canada and at several major events in the UK, as they shared the stage with renowned Muslim performers, including Dawud Wharnsby Ali, Native Deen, 786, and Ashiqe Rasul."

YouTube has two of his live performances here:

Apparently, Brother Jamaluddin publicly declared Shahada while live on stage with his drumming group and Dawud Wharnsby during MusicFest 2005!

Interesting to me is the mention in the article that Brother Jamaluddin was often disappointed that the Muslim community did not appreciate his art. However, he drummed on.

Being a drummer myself, I can relate to the Brother's disappointment. The Muslim community is split when it comes to music.

My main drum is the daf. In the purest sense of Islam, the playing of the daf is only permitted for specific occasions like Eids and weddings. It is only permitted to be played by women.

I do own a djembe (like the drum Brother Jamaluddin can be seen performing with in the videos, strapped around his waist). The djembe is a drum most commonly played in West Africa, however, many people around the world play it. I bought the djembe because I live in a very small town and a local teacher was offering lessons. I figured that once I learned to drum in a formal kind of way, through lessons, that I could then teach myself the rhythms of the daf.

And I have done this, Alhamdulillah.

But deep down, I always feel a little bit anxious. Why? Because I know that music and musical instruments (other than the daf) are a controversial topic in Islam. Some scholars say that it is all absolutely forbidden. Yet others say that, like anything, it is permissible if it doesn't distract a person from their Islamic duties and if the music doesn't promote the haraam.

I then read an essay on the Internet written by Brother Yusuf Islam (formerly "Cat Stevens") called Music: A Question of Faith or Da'wah. He did so in response to the criticism and controversy that occurred after he returned to the music industry after a long absence. These words stuck out for me:

"Different opinions about music indicate that it is not to be taken as a question of faith ('Aqidah), but is simply a matter of understanding (fiqh)."

I agree with Brother Yusuf. I have really thought about this, talked to Muslims, and most importantly, I have prayed about it. Some of my Muslim sisters think I "rock" because I play drums. Yet others think that I am an open sinner with no shame. Ya Allah. It is truly distressing.

(Me - Drumming With My Teacher For a Children's Class)

So I can understand the trepidations of Brother Jamaluddin.

Insha Allah, the Almighty (swt) will judge us all and forgive us all/Ameen.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Watching the Evening News: A Poem








Copyright © 2008
S. E. Jihad Levine

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reflections: The 3 Most Important Men From My Childhood

(Some reflections on the men of my childhood - part of a piece I recycled from my old blog. Excuse the formatting - Blogger is having a bad day:)

I was born in New York City, but when I was around four years old, my family moved to Chicago. For a short time, I was daddy’s little girl, the apple of his eye. But he only lived with us for a brief 11 years. And during those years, he was gone most of the time on “business” trips. We later learned that he had a secret life that included drugs, crime, and other women. But I was a little girl, and all I knew was that he was “My Daddy”! When he came home, he always had presents for everybody and things felt normal until he left again, and until eventually my mother divorced him.

(My Daddy and I - swimming)

What stands out in my mind about my dad from my childhood is that on at least one occasion he was the neighborhood hero. One hot summer afternoon, our whole family was outside togetherbehind my grandparent’s apartment building. The adults were talking, laughing, smoking cigarettes, and sipping cold drinks. The children were playing over at the building’s playground. The merriment was interrupted by the piercing scream of a woman, from somewhere high up in one of the top floor apartments. As everyone looked up in the direction of the scream, a young man could be seen running down the back steps of the building. Instinctively, my father knew that the man had something to do with the woman’s distress. To my mother’s dismay, my father got up and ran after him. The woman was yelling that she had been robbed by the young man. In broad daylight! Now my mother was really alarmed, afraid that my father would be hurt by the desperate burglar. Someone must have called the police, because they arrived a few minutes later. A search of the area began. They found my father around the corner of the building, holding the man on the ground until the police could come and take control of the situation. When it was all over, my father emerged a hero. Even though my mother continued to nag and scold him the rest of the evening for taking such a risk, she was proud of her husband and I was the envy of all the kids present that day.

His dad, my paternal grandfather also doted on me. I was the first grandchild born to that side of the family (no one minded that I was a girl). We used to visit my grandparents every weekend and it was the highlight of my week. As soon as my parents’ car came to a stop, I climbed out, and raced ahead of my parents, and flew up the few flights of steps to my grandparent’s apartment. Grandma would meet me at the kitchen door with a kiss and she would then turn to greeting my parents. I ran through the apartment searching for Grandpa.

(My Grandpa and I - in the park in New York City)

Sometimes I found him working in his home office. I loved Grandpa’s office, especially when he would let me work in there. As a child, I spent hours in his office, sitting like a grown up on his very own chair, pushing the keys of his adding machine and using up the entire roll of adding machine tape. He would appear in the doorway, looking at me with a stern look on his face, pretending like he was mad at me for using up the whole roll of paper. But I would only smile; I knew he was going to replace the roll and in no time I would happily banging away on the keys again. My Grandpa also had an endless supply of yellow, lined writing tablets. I filled many tablets while visiting at his house – with everything from school homework to practicing my penmanship. Filling up these tablets was my first introduction to writing.

Other times I found him in the bedroom reading. From my grandfather, I received the gift of a passion for reading. My grandparents had two double beds pushed together. They were the kind of beds that had shelves built into the headboards, and they were crammed with books and magazines. Grandpa and I spent entire Sunday afternoons reading together, laying on that giant bed, he on his side, and me on my grandma’s side. I “read” all his books and looked at the pictures in all of his magazines. I especially loved National Geographic. My Grandpa had books, magazines, and newspapers strewn all over the house - even in the bathroom. My favorite bathroom book was Jewish Jokes for the John!

After my parents got divorced, my mother, my brother, and I moved far away from my father and my grandparents to Pennsylvania where my mother’s family lived. There I got to know her father, Grandpaw. He didn’t have an adding machine or writing tablets. I never saw him read a book. In fact, he didn’t even know how to read in English. He didn’t have an office either. But, he did have a shop of sorts.

Located in the corner of the sun porch, nestled behind the table my Grandmaw used for setting the pig’s feet to gel, his shop consisted of a huge watchmaker’s desk. It was a wooden roll top desk, with dozens of little drawers, sections, and compartments. He had a wide array of tools, parts, and an assortment of bottles containing oil and polish. There was also a chair next to his desk so I could sit and keep him company. By day, he worked as a coal miner. At night and on the weekends, he repaired clocks and watches for everyone in the neighborhood. He also fixed cuckoo clocks and music boxes. He worked long hours at that desk, jeweler’s loop in one eye, cigar in one hand, fixing everyone’s time pieces. When he dismantled them, he placed the tiny intricate pieces and screws on the desk, fixed the piece, and then put it all back together again. Although he drank beer while he worked, he never messed up anybody’s watch or clock. I was amazed by all the clocks he had on the shelf. After he fixed a piece, he would put it on the shelf for a day or two, just to make sure it worked properly. It wasn’t unusual for him to have 20 clocks or more and a few music boxes on the shelf at one time. I would wait patiently for the top of the hour to arrive so I could witness the symphony of chimes, rings, and bells. Emerging from the cuckoo clocks was everything from birds and ballerinas, to ladies with brooms sweeping off the clock decks. When I got older, Grandpaw entrusted me with the job of pulling up the chain pulleys on the cuckoo clocks so the cycle could start all over again. How important I felt being Grandpaw’s assistant! When he was finally finished with someone’s repair job, he put it in an envelope or a paper bag. The people would come to the sun porch door to pick up their item. If Grandpaw answered the door, he usually gave them the package without charging them any money. That was how kind my sweet my Grandpaw was. Besides, he enjoyed being a watchmaker. It was his occupation when he lived in Poland. Because he was too kind, Grandmaw took to answering the door and collecting the money when the people came.

When he was finished working, or if he felt we needed a break, we would sneak off to the tavern where he would join his coal miner buddies and other friends from the “old country” for beers and shots. He would perch me next to him, high on a bar stool where I had to lean against the counter to keep from falling off. If we got there around dinner time, the bartender gave me a free fried fish sandwich and french fries. Whenever someone ordered a round for the entire bar, I received a soda. I drank Coca-Cola and ate potato chips until I thought I would bust. His friends also used to buy me Hershey Bars and Baby Ruth candies. Often, I also came away from those jaunts with a pocket full of quarters and dimes that the guys gave me. On a good night, I even got a paper dollar bill or two from one of the miners. Many times we stayed at the tavern well into the evening hours. If I got tired, Grandpaw moved me to a booth, where I watched the TV high up in the corner of the bar. Sometimes I fell asleep. I loved those trips to the tavern even though I knew we would be in trouble with Grandmaw when we got back home.

On one of his trips back from the tavern, when I wasn’t with him, he got hit by a train. He was drunk, but he had the sense to leave his car at the tavern. We figure that he was blinded by the headlight of the oncoming train as he tried to walk across the tracks to come home. Grandmaw and her friends found him in the ditch next to the tracks when they returned from playing bingo. Grandmaw was real mad because she figured that he gotten drunk and passed out there. She and her friends carried him home where they dropped him on the living room floor.

The next day my uncle came over and told Grandmaw that we should take him to the hospital. There he died. I never saw my Grandpaw again until he was lying in a casket at the funeral home. Because the house was full with family staying over during the days before the funeral, I had to sleep in Grandpaw’s single bed. I laid there and cried all night, feeling guilty for not being with him at the tavern the night he got killed.

When Grandpaw wasn’t working or drinking, he liked to garden. I have a picture of him standing near his garden, holding a kitten in his arms. It’s my favorite picture of him.

(My Grandpaw and Grandmaw in their garden in Pennsylvania)

Harry was my mother’s second husband, my step-father. Harry came into our lives, stepped up to the plate, and assumed the role that my own father had willingly thrown away. My mother never had to work outside of the home after she married him. When my father stopped supporting us, it was Harry who took care of us.

(My step-dad, Harry)

It was him who took us out of the housing project bought us our very own house to live in. He was there for me during the most important time of my life – adolescence. He taught me how to drive. He had a few extra beers when I practiced the clarinet. He came to the high school football game to watch me perform in the marching band. He took a photograph of my boyfriend and me the night of our prom. He came to my high school graduation. He taught me that being a father is more than writing a child support check. More than a weekly collect telephone call I received from my own dad. More than the occasional letter or card he sent. More than the two-week summer vacation I spent with my own dad. He taught me that fatherhood is steady, consistent, and persistent. He acted as a role model for manhood that my brother chose to ignore. He was there for us until death took him. He had a heart attack on his way to work. After his death, his personal items from the car were given to us. He had a picture of me in his wallet.

It was Father's Day in 2006 when I originally wrote this piece on my old blog. I was thinking, that day, about how wonderful it is that Islam doesn't need to set aside a special day to honor fathers and grandfathers. My father and grandfathers are constantly on my mind. They each, in their own way, enriched my life and gave me numerous gifts that contribute to the person that I am.

Today seemed like a good day to recycle this piece!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Samir and Hawa

These are my cats, Samir and Hawa. They are littermates. The long one, spread out in the foreground is Samir; behind him is his sister.

They were born in Masjid Ikhwa in Brooklyn, New York, and lived in the masjid until they were given to me as a gift. Their mother lives in Masjid Ikhwa. I've had the honor to have had numerous cats as companions in my life, but these guys are special. They're Muslims!

From living in the masjid, they're used to hearing the Adhan. They come running whenever it is called. They wait for the prayer rugs to be spread out and they, too, take their place. When they hear Qu'ran being recited, they curl up contently to listen.

Cats enjoy a special place in Islam. It is well known that the Prophet (saw) was fond of cats. His companion, Abdur-Rahman (ra) was known by the people as Abu Hurayrah, which translates as "father of the kitten" because he, too, often enjoyed and played with cats since his childhood.

There are numerous hadiths about cats:

"Yahya related to me from Malik from Ishaq ibn Abdullah ibn Abi Talha from Humayda bint Abi Ubayda ibn Farwa that her maternal aunt Kabsha bint Kab ibn Malik, who was the wife of the son of Abu Qatada al-Ansari, told her that once Abu Qatada was visiting her and she poured out some water for him to do wudu with. Just then a cat came to drink from it so he tilted the vessel towards it to let it drink. Kabsha continued, "He saw me looking at him and said, 'Are you surprised, daughter of my brother?' I said, 'Yes.' He repled that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, cats are not impure. They intermingle with you.'" Yahya said that Malik said, "There is no harm in that unless one sees impurities on the cat's mouth." (Malik's Muwatta)

Narrated Asma' bint Abi Bakr: The Prophet once offered the eclipse prayer ... On completion of the prayer, he said, "Paradise became so near to me that if I had dared, I would have plucked one of its bunches for you and Hell became so near to me that I said, 'O my Lord will I be among those people?' Then suddenly I saw a woman and a cat was lacerating her with its claws On inquiring, it was said that the woman had imprisoned the cat till it died of starvation and she neither fed it nor freed it so that it could feed itself." (Sahih Bukhari)

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: "Abu Zubayr quoted the authority of Jabir ibn Abdullah for the statement that the Prophet forbade payment for a dog. Ibn Abdul Malik said: to eat a cat and to enjoy its price." (Sunan Abu Dawud)

I also found some internet references about cats and Islam on some cat websites. One of them quotes a story of a cat who saved the Prophet (saw) from being bitten by a deadly snake. In another tale, the Prophet (saw) had a cat named Muezza. When the Prophet (saw) was called for prayer, the story goes, he saw that Muezza was asleep on the sleeve of his robe. Rather than disturb the cat, the Prophet (saw) cut off the sleeve. When he returned, the cat awoke and bowed gracefully to thank the Prophet (saw) for his consideration. The Prophet (saw) stroked the cat three times. However, I cannot find any valid Islamic references for these tales. If anyone knows of any, please leave a comment with the source!

Friday, December 05, 2008

An Eid Story

(The following is a short story, not a true event - but it fictionalizes a problem so common in many of our Muslims communities, may Allah (swt) forgive us!)

It happened during the Blessed 10 days of Zul-Hijjah. Actually, it was a few days before the Eid ul-Adha when the news of Umm Hafsa’s murder stunned our small Muslim community. There was no question about who did it. She died at the hands of her husband. He admitted it.

Once the details of the murder became known, no one in our little masjid could believe what had occurred. The imam himself went to the city lockup so he could hear it directly from the lips of the jailed husband. But to a group of us sisters who called ourselves close friends of Umm Hafsa, the only surprise was that we hadn’t admitted to each other that Umm Hafsa was being abused and that she needed our help before it was too late. In hindsight, all the signs were there.

On the morning of the janaaza, we agreed to gather early in the women’s area of the masjid. We needed the comfort of each other. A tearful Umm Nadia was sitting alone saying dua when I entered the prayer area.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon,” she sobbed after rising to greet me. “I feel like I can’t wake up from a nightmare! I heard on the news … that he shot …” The unfinished sentence trailed off as she dug in her purse for a tissue. “And the precious children saw everything … Ya Rabb!” she wailed.

“I know, shhhh,” I murmured as she collapsed into my outstretched arms. Looking over Umm Nadia’s shoulder, I saw Sisters Halima and Amina come in. There was a chorus of as salaamu alaikums as we all embraced each other and cried. After we sat down, we silently supplicated together for Allah to forgive the sins of Umm Hafsa and for Him to prepare her a spacious grave.

“I feel so guilty, may Allah forgive me,” Umm Nadia confessed. “I should have heeded my gut feelings. Her husband seemed so controlling and dominating. I had a bad sense about him from the start. When I saw her with that discolored eye, I believed her when she claimed that the baby had poked her. Then there was the broken arm that she explained away by saying that she tripped over her son’s toy fire truck. Ya Allah … all the excuses.”

“The miscarriage!” Sister Halima exclaimed. “Do you think …?”

Sister Amina related that she had attempted to reach Umm Hafsa by phone for weeks on end to no avail. “I knew she was home. Where else would she be?” she sniffled. “Her husband wouldn’t teach her how to drive or let her go anywhere without him. He was the one who would chauffer her when it was absolutely necessary for her to go out of the house.”

“She used to come to our halaqas once in awhile,” I reminded them. “But he eventually put an end to that. What kind of husband doesn’t want his wife to get together with her sisters to learn about the deen?” I said as I twisted in my seat.

“He was isolating her,” Sister Halima explained. “He wouldn’t even buy a computer for the house so she could use email and instant message. You all know how much she missed her mom and her family overseas. He tried to keep her from everyone as much as he could. But he sure enough had his own Blackberry though.”

“I remember inviting her out to lunch and an afternoon of shopping,” I added. “But she told me that she didn’t have her own money.”

I hung my head and remembered the frustration I felt in trying to nurture my friendship with Umm Hafsa over the last few months. I developed a connection with her the first time I met her at the Eid prayer a year ago. She and her husband had just moved to our community. We had children who were the same ages and she reminded me of my own sister. I drifted off remembering my gentle friend and Muslim sister. Umm Hafsa was a slim woman with warm, kind eyes. She recited surahs with a voice so sweet that it brought tears to my eyes. My lips turned up in a smile as I remember how we used to get together a few days a week with the kids, taking them to the park, going to each other’s homes so the kids could play together, visiting, chatting, and laughing. Then her husband lost his job and he was home most of the time. I did go over to her house once when he was there. I chewed my bottom lip remembering how I could sense that he didn’t want me in his home. So I didn’t stay long that day, and it got more difficult for us to get together after that.

“What?” I said as I awoke from my daydream and realized that Umm Nadia was speaking to me.

“You were talking about money, and I was saying that he wouldn’t allow her to work. I thought it was a shame because she had a university education and really wanted to work as an English teacher. And they could have used the money.”

Sister Halima confided to us that Umm Hafsa had once acknowledged feelings of depression and anxiety. She worried about her husband’s humiliation over being unemployed. “He was always stressed out and spent most of his day barking orders at Umm Hafsa as if he was a drill sergeant. Umm Hafsa was crushed.”

“That’s no excuse,” I replied. “A lot of men lose their jobs and don’t abuse their wives. There was probably a lot going on that we didn’t know about. My point is that his abuse didn’t just happen overnight.”

“You’re right,” Sister Halima admitted. “I think the job loss intensified what was always there. Umm Hafsa was horrified that her husband spanked their son one day just because he dropped juice on the carpet. He had never laid a hand on the boy before that,” she said.

Sister Amina recounted a conversation she had with her own husband. She told him she had suspicions that her friend was being abused and she asked her husband to speak with Umm Hafsa’s husband. Sadly, Sister Amina’s husband said that he didn’t want to interfere with a brother and his family problems.

“A lot of help those brothers are,” Sister Amina complained. Umm Hafsa even resorted to consulting the imam about the situation. She said that she knew a sister who was being abused by her husband, and the sister was seeking naseehah. But the imam’s only counsel to her was to say dua and be patient with her husband. He advised her to trust Allah and assured her that He would soon grant her relief.”

Little did he know …, I mused.

“I think Umm Hafsa’s situation is similar to a problem that is common in many Muslim households,” I said. “But old attitudes and stigmas prevent families from getting help. Most of all, silence destroys Muslim families. Take us, for example. We didn’t acknowledge to each other what we all knew to be true. We resisted the temptation to feed our suspicions. We absolved ourselves by claiming that we were busy with our own homes and jobs. When we didn’t see her or hear from her we told ourselves we would check in with her “tomorrow” but the day never came.”

“What could we have done to help Umm Hafsa?” Umm Nadia asked.

“We should have tried harder to let Umm Hafsa know that she wasn’t alone. We should have found a way to let her know that we knew what was going on. We didn’t encourage her to seek the help that is out there,” I said.

Sister Amina shared with the others that there are domestic violence hotlines that are staffed with professionals and volunteers who know exactly how to help and protect women and children at risk. She told us that the help is free and confidential. Using the hotline presents a woman with choices.

Sister Halima reminded us that domestic violence does not come from the religion of Islam. After all, our dear Prophet, peace upon him, never abused any of his wives, children or grandchildren.

Umm Nadia and I acknowledged that domestic violence is a crime. Silence about domestic violence endangers our Muslim communities.

We sat and reflected on everything that had been said as the women’s section began to fill with other sisters and their children. Each of us promised ourselves that we would never again remain silent when one of our sisters was at risk. We vowed that we would help before another one of our families ended up in tragedy.

Shortly thereafter, the speakers revealed the adjusting of the microphones from upstairs in the men’s area. Umm Nadia, Sister Amina, Sister Halima and I rose and prepared to join the congregation.

The Salat ul Janaaza for Umm Hafsa was about to start.

By S. E. Jihad Levine
© 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

When in the Masjid

I've been tagged by a wonderful blogger who I just recently have begun to read: Sister Hijabee over at A Hijabee in DC. Although I'm not usually crazy about tags, I am honored to participate in this one:

The Rules:

Link back to the person who tagged you. List 3 ahadith you’d like to pin up in your masjid and why. Tag some of your fellow bloggers by linking to them in your post and don’t forget to post a comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been tagged.

Here goes - the ones I would like to post in the "women's section" of the masjid:

1. Aisha (ra) reported that Asmaa (ra), the daughter of Abu Bakr (ra), entered into the presence of the Messenger of Allaah (saw) wearing thin transparent clothing. So the Messenger of Allaah (saw) turned away from her saying: 'O Asmaa, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it is not allowed that any of her should be seen except this' (and he pointed to his face and two hands. (Authentic, reportedby Al-Bayhaqee)

Update: After writing the "why" to this hadith, I decided to come back to my blog and delete the "why". My explanation was too judgmental and had the power to hurt my Muslim sisters, may Allah (swt) forgive me. If you have read it in your feeder, you will understand why. Suffice it to say, that this hadith speaks for itself.

2. 'Abdullah b. Amr b. al-As reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: When you hear the Mu'adhdhin, repeat what he says, then invoke a blessing on me, for everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah; then beg from Allah al-Wasila for me, which is a rank in Paradise fitting for only one of Allah's servants, and I hope that I may be that one. If anyone who asks that I be given the Wasila, he will be assured of my intercession. (Muslim)

You have probably experienced it: a bunch of us happy, laughing, chatting sisters in the "women's section" when the Adhan comes over the loudspeakers from upstairs. Maybe someone says "shh". Some may get up to make wudu. But for the most part, everyone keeps talking and laughing. We are supposed to be repeating the words of the Adhan and then be making dua after.

3. Abu Hurairah states that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "It is unbecoming for a Muslim to desert his brother for over three days. Whoever remains seperated for more than three days and dies, shall enter Hell." (Ahmad and Abu Dawood)

This applies to all Muslims. Some sisters act like teenage girls. What fitnah! If you think that a sister has offended you, talk to the sister about it. We are adults. Then, Insha Allah, you can resolve the matter, ask her for forgiveness, and then move on ...

I tag:

American Muslima Writer


And anyone else who wants to participate :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Brenden Foster - Can Muslim Children Learn From Him?

Little Brenden Foster, the boy with leukemia who inspired the world, lost his battle to the disease on Friday, November 21, 2008.

Brenden gained the attention of the entire world when his dying wish was publicized: Brenden wanted to feed the homeless. He was worried that homeless people were going hungry and didn't have enough to eat.

Many people responded to Brenden's dying wish. People mobilized food drives, made sandwiches and took them to the homeless people in the streets, donated money and supplies, etc. Others prayed for the success of Brenden's dying wish. People that heard about Brenden's dying wish did whatever they could to make it come true. And come true it did! Better yet, Brenden lived long enough to see his dream come true.

Oh! And Brenden had another wish! He heard that the bees were dying. He wanted to see wildflowers planted all over the world so that the bees could survive. Brenden knew of the benefits that bees provide to mankind. Brenden earned the nickname of "B-Man" because he was so concerned about the fate of bees!

Again, people responded and one pilot even flew a plane that scattered wildflower seeds over the earth.

The legacy of 11-year old Brenden got me thinking: are there any Muslim Brendens in America? Do you know of any, or have you heard any stories about Muslim boys (or girls!) like Brenden?

What if teachers in Islamic Sunday Schools would encourage their students to start beneficial projects like the ones that Brenden inspired?

What if a special children's sadaqa box was put in every masjid to help to fund the dreams of the children? What if all the parents in the masjid encouraged each of their children to donate just a fraction of their allowance to the special box?

What if parents of Muslim children, for example, would motivate their children to donate some of their toys to children in America who didn't have toys?

A project by Muslim children to benefit ALL children in America. Not just Muslim children. Not just projects "overseas". Think of the goodwill! Think of the dawah! Alhamdulillah!

Better yet: what if we Muslim parents raised our children to be selfless like Brenden was? What if our kids would have a "dream" like Brenden had without us adults having to encourage them or motivate them? Wouldn't it be beautiful if our Muslim children thought up these things all by themselves? Alhamdulillah!

Brenden's mom told news reporters that she felt blessed and humbled to have had Brenden as her child.

Maybe tonight each one of us reading this will sit their kids down and share Brenden's story with them. Who knows? Maybe one of our Muslim kids will be inspired to dream!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kaafir? Mushrik? Atheist? Polytheist?

Disclaimer: I am not a scholar or a student of knowledge. I am only expressing my thoughts about a topic that has been bothering me for quite some time!

I just hate it when I hear Muslims use the word "kaafir".

Why? Because I think that most Muslims who use the word do not actually know what it really means.

Most Muslims I know use the word to describe a non-Muslim, specifically a Christian or Jewish person. In the prison where I work, I hear this from Muslims all the time: "that kaafir who is my cellie" or "that kaafir guard" etc.

But I ran across something interesting while surfing the Muslim websites recently. It is posted over at Abdur-Rahman's site. It appears to be a question that was answered by Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan. The question is: "What is the difference between al-Kaafireen and al-Mushrikeen (i.e., between a Musrik and a Kaafir)." You can read the question/answer in its entirety, but I perked up at the following statement the shaykh made:

" for the Kaafir, then he rejects the existence of Allaah the Mighty and Exalted and does not acknowledge Allaah the Mighty and Majestic, and nor does he acknowledge a religion from amongst the religions. This is the rejecting Kaafir."

Hmm ... I am not a scholar or a student of knowledge, but this appears pretty clear to me: the kaafir is an atheist! He does not believe in Allah. Period.

The kaafir, it appears, knowingly rejects the truth. If he has doubts about the truth and the doubts are removed and he still rejects the truth, it appears that he is a kaafir. No doubt about it. He may even tell you so himself!

Do we Muslims KNOW what other people believe or what is in their hearts? Unless they have declared unbelief out of their own mouths, do we have the right to label or call someone a kaafir without having intimate knowledge of this person, how he/she thinks, what he/she believes, what is in their hearts? I would think that only Allah (swt) can judge this person - or any of us for that matter! Especially on the Day of Judgment.

How do we attract people to Allah's (swt) beautiful and perfect religion if we show contempt for them? For the same people who may be our Muslim brother or sister in the future?

Would Allah (swt) permit a Muslim man to marry a kaafir? Astaghfirallah!

"Oh, but Safiyyah," you might say, "it says in the Qur'an that the Jews and Christians are kaafirs." We know, however, that those particular Jews and Christians WERE kaafir because of the very fact that Allah (swt) has told us so in the Qur'an! He has told us! BUT! He has not told us anything about the people of today. He has not let us in on the scoop! Only HE knows. We are not privy. Allahu Alim! The knowledge is with Him. Not us!

Monday, November 10, 2008

2,000-year-old gold earring found in Jerusalem

As a lover of jewelry - especially, gold, pearls, and emeralds, this find really struck at my heart (sigh!).

JERUSALEM – Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old gold earring beneath a parking lot next to the walls of Jerusalem's old city, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Monday.

Read the full article here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Should You Be Allowed to Vote?

You Should Be Allowed to Vote
You got 14/15 questions correct.Generally speaking, you're very well informed.If you vote this election, you'll know exactly who (and what) you'll be voting for.You're likely to have strong opinions, and you have the facts to back them up.

The above were my results! How about you? Find out at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Letters to a Bullied Girl

I just bought this book the other day. Letters to a Bullied Girl - Messages of Healing and Hope is written by Olivia Gardner, a little girl who was the target of vicious bullying in school. It all started in middle school after Olivia, who has epilepsy, had a seizure in front of the other children at school. The bullying started with name calling, and progressed to Olivia being tormented online by some kids at school who started a website called "Olivia's Haters." Some of the kids even wore "I Hate Olivia" bracelets!

Imagine how poor Olivia must have felt?! She became depressed and withdrawn. She isolated. Olivia even considered taking her own life! Then something unbelievable happened to make Olivia change her mind, and even hope for happiness again. In March of 2007, the local newspaper wrote a story about Olivia's suffering. Two girls who read the story felt Olivia's pain and began a letter-writing campaign called "Olivia's Letters." These letters let Olivia know that she was not alone. They gave her hope and little by little, one day at a time, one letter at a time, Olivia began to heal. Word spread about "Olivia's Letters" and people from all over began to write to Olivia! Some letters were from children and adults who had been bullied, but the bullies themselves also wrote letters to Olivia. Letters to a Bullied Girl - Messages of Healing and Hope contains a selection from over 4,000 letters that Olivia received. Will "Olivia's Letters" become a worldwide movement? The authors of the book and those who support putting an end to bullying hope so! And I agree. So, I'd like to make a contribution to the "movement". I'd like to contribute my letter. Yes. I was a bully when I was a young girl. My bullying also started with name calling. But, it escalated to bullying of the worst kind: violence.

Dear Janet:

Remember me? Sharon, who used to live next door to you when we were children? I think you do remember me, Janet. I don't see how you could ever forget me. Because I was one of the kids who made your life miserable when you were younger.

I know that you were hurt and confused about me being one of the kids in the group who tormented you. After all, we were friendly, and we did play together. That is, until we both went to high school. That's when I started hanging around with a different crowd, a bad crowd, one that included kids who your mother wouldn't let you or your brother hang around. Your mom also wouldn't let you hang around with me.

I remember how we both used to leave our houses at the same time and walk down the same street to wait for the same bus. But we never walked together.

I remember how we used to wait for the bus, me standing with the "crowd" and you standing by yourself.

I remember joining the chorus when they taunted you with, "Janet Hess. You're a mess. Janet Hess. You're a mess. Janet Hess. You're a mess."

But you ignored us. And that made some of us mad. And we decided that we were going to "get" you. We made a plan to jump you the next morning before we all boarded the bus. We decided that one of us would grab you and knock you to the ground right as the bus door opened. We all laughed and patted each other on the back, satisfied with our plan. I was elected to be the one who would grab you when the bus door opened. Then the others would pull you to the ground.

The fateful morning came. It was a very foggy morning and my naturally curly hair frizzed up in the humidity despite my best efforts in the bathroom to tame my curls with a heating iron and hair spray. I was feeling particuarly evil as I walked to the bus with my friends, bragging and talking trash all the way down the road, turning every few steps so I could see you when you left your house. Then I saw you. It was on!

As usual, my friends and I got to the bus stop first. When you arrived about five minutes later, I decided that I wasn't going to wait for the bus to come as originally planned. To the total surprise of my friends, I grabbed you by your coat and smacked you in your face. I then pushed you down and jumped on top of you, pulling your hair, scratching your face, kicking you, and punching you. I remember the feeling of triumph that I felt. My friends were yelling and encouraging me.

When I stopped you were all dirty and you had started to bleed. As you cried and tried to get yourself together, me and my friends were laughing and jumping around, singing, "Janet Hess. She's a mess. Janet Hess. What a mess." ha ha ha ha ha

You ran home.

Janet. I am soooooooo sorry! You didn't deserve any of the abuse I heaped on you when we were kids.

How could I have done such things?

You see, Janet, I had so much anger in me. But that wasn't your fault. I had no right to take it out on you.

I was jealous of you, Janet. Your life seemed so perfect compared to mine. You didn't have a rageful alcoholic mother. I did.

Was it because I thought that you were a witness? I know that your heard all the yelling and screaming coming from my house all those summer evenings through your open bedroom window.

I felt ashamed every time I saw you.

Is that why your mother wouldn't let you come over to our house? Did she think that I wasn't good enough to be friends with you?

I know I'm babbling, Janet, and I know that you probably aren't interested in any apologies from me. But I just had to write this letter. And I hope that you will forgive me.



Who knows? Maybe Janet will see this blog. One never knows. But the book made me realize that it is never too late to heal or to resolve my memories of bullying. How about you? Were you bullied? Did you bully?

May Allah (swt) forgive me for what I did/Ameen.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Islam's Legacy in Yankee Stadium

(Book Cover From Author Sctt Pitoniak's Book)
As we prepare to witness the demolition of one of New York City's greatest landmarks, the Yankee Stadium, I am reminded of the interfaith service held there after the attacks on 9/11 at the World Trade Center, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

This CNN article mentions the following contribution by Muslims planned by the event organizers:

"The Adhan Call to Prayer will be made by the Muezzin, Brother Abdul Wali Y. Shaheed, translated by Sister Zaimah Sabree and Masjid Malcolm Shabazz of Harlem.

Muslim prayer and reflection then will be offered: a prayer by Imam Fajri Ansari, a prayer by Imam Muhammad Shamsi-Ali and a reflection by Imam Izak-EL M. Pasha, a chaplain of the New York Police Department, with Lt. Sharif Nasef and Officer Adil Almonpaser."

My dear readers: as a Muslim and as a New Yorker in the diaspora, I remember the lump in my throat, the tears in my eyes, and the goose bumps on my arms when I heard the Adhan called in Yankee Stadium. It absolutely blew me away and pride and hope. I knew then that I was witnessing something incredible. Something I would never witness again on such a large scale.

Yankee Stadium seats approximately 57,000 people with room for more if needed. Additionally, the entire global community was able to hear this incredible event as it was broadcasted.
"Verily, from Allah we come and unto Him we shall return."
Thank you, Allah (swt), for ALL of your creation, including the Yankee Stadium/Ameen.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Article: Time To Take Zakat As Seriously As Ramadhan

Here is an excellent article, Masha Allah, about Zakat.

I felt joy to know that it is the fiqh of Zakat that it be distributed LOCALLY first! Too much zakat goes overseas or back home at the expense of needly local Muslims and organizations.

Yes, I know that those overseas or back home are in need, too. But people: can't we spread it around a bit?! I think it is sinful that many local Muslims have been forced to go to non-Muslim agencies for help because they have been turned away or turned down by local Muslims and local masjids in America.

May Allah (swt) help us all and return us to the ways of our pious predecessors/Ameen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7th Anniversary of 9/11

May Allah (swt), As-Salaam, Source of all Peace, have mercy on our country and on victims of violence everywhere it exists/Ameen.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ramadhan Mubarak!

And say dua for those Muslims in the Gulf area beginning their Ramadhan with an unexpected iftaar guest ... Gustav.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Breast Self-Examination: A Poem

By S. E. Jihad Levine
© 2008

Slathering Mediterranean Rose bath gel over
my breasts,
preparing for my monthly
hands slipping and sliding as the
sweet-smelling aroma of rose rises
to my nostrils,
taking me away from the present task,
transporting me back to
numerous summer afternoons,
long ago,
alone in my bedroom,
lying on top of my white chenille bedspread
amidst a field of pink and blue
yarn-tufted flowers,
eyes rolled back into my head,
breathing long and steady,
perky nipples perched
atop minute mounds of soft flesh
that in my 13-year old mind
passed for a woman’s breasts,
nipples as hard as
fresh-shucked sweet peas,
the touch of my own hands
lightly pinching
feeling far better than the touch of anyone else or
anyone since,
including that of my Uncle Tony.

Kneading and pressing my breasts now, in a
circular and focused manner,
not lying on a chenille bed spread of flowers
but hidden behind a fabric shower curtain,
haunted by the voice of my dead mother:
“Don’t ever touch yourself,”
she warned,
“there … or there,”
she said, pointing to the places.
“And don’t let anyone else
do it either!”
Not even Uncle Tony?
I wanted to ask her, but
he also warned me:
"Don't ever tell."

Memories of her shame and mine
wash over me as my
fingers search for the
dreaded symptom of
breast cancer.
Looking for a different type of pea,
but not a sweet one -
how did the brochure describe it?
like a pearl?
or a marble?
like the one Sis Nadirah found?
that betrayed her and became a hard lump?
Or the one that ended Sister Atiyah’s life?
But not before she watched her husband
die from complications of HIV?

Finished with the monthly ritual,
I roll back my head,
exhaling a long breath,
feeling a different kind of satisfaction:

Alhamdulillah, nothing found this month.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Locking Up Allah's House

Thank you to my readers (if there's anyone left!) for your patience. I didn't expect to be gone from blogging this long, but the move to the new home has been a real jihad. But Alhamdulillah for the blessing of a new home! I have been trying to unpack boxes, get adjusted, clean, etc., and it has been difficult due to my physical situation and no help. Ya Allah! But anyhow:

My husband went to the masjid last Friday for Jumuah. And the masjid was locked. No one was there. It also happened one other time in July where he had gone to the masjid for Jumuah and no one showed up.

The first issue is the locking up of Allah's (swt) house. I really do understand the need in certain areas for locking the masjid. Our masjid has had it's share of vandalism, etc.

But if "those in charge" of the masjid are going to lock it, shouldn't one of them assume the responsibility of opening it for the salaat and Jumuah prayers?

Shouldn't at least ONE person assume responsibility for being there at these times?

Some brothers who visit our masjid regularly from out-of-town have been given keys to the masjid. This is like saying, "Well brother, salaat in the masjid and Jumuah is hit-or-miss here. But you can have a key for when you come around and we're not here."

What about those Muslims who consistently participate at our masjid, but who have not been given the "honor" of having a key to Allah's (swt) house? For example, I have assumed the responsibility of starting an Islamic library for the children of this masjid. I asked for a key so I could get in when I had time to arrange the books and do work in the library. I was sent around-the-mountain to various people in the masjid until I got frustrated and took the hint. Why don't these people come straight out and tell me that they don't want me to have a key? Ya Allah! I belong to a Yahoo group for Muslims from the masjids in all the surrounding areas. One new Muslim posted that she went to such-and-such masjid and it too was locked and no one was around. What kind of message does this give to the new Muslim? What kind of masjid is it when no one shows up for salaat and Jumuah?
Another issue with the locking of the masjid concerns when we have special events. One time, we received an email that the masjid would be having a "family night". Alhamdulillah, a good thing. The email stated that it would start at 4:30 p.m. At that time, the Asr prayer was around 5 p.m. or so. So I figured that they would open the doors at 4:30 p.m., as stated in the email, and that we would all be able to make our Asr salaat in congregation. Well, NO ONE showed up until AFTER the Asr prayer!!! Someone finally showed up with a key after 5:30 or so. Other people started to drift in around 6 p.m. Due to the locking of the masjid, I have had to adjust to "third-world time". Whatever time they tell you to show up means that you should add an hour to it. A 5 p.m. function becomes 6 p.m. and so forth.
Am I frustrated? You bet I am.
Another thing that frustrates me?
WTF doesn't Blogger format paragraphs correctly?
Rant done ...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We Are Moving!

I am moving.

No - not to WordPress!!!

My husband and I have bought a home, Alhamdulillah!

And let me tell you: at my age, with MS, and very little help, it's not an easy task. But I am doing it, little by little, one day at a time, Alhamdulillah.

So pardon me while we get settled, and PLEASE do come back. I promise to write soon, Insha Allah.

Love and Salaams to Everyone! Stay cool - it sure is hot out there!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bahrain Names Jewish Ambassador

My Palestinian sister friend, Sana (Salaams Sana!), sent the below to me.

Another example of Jewish presence in the Middle East, and an example of how Arabs, Muslims, Jews, etc., can live together and all work toward a productive and peaceful society. Not sure of the source of this article.


Bahrain's king has appointed a Jewish woman as the country's envoy to the United States.

Houda Nonoo said she was proud to serve her country "first of all as a Bahraini" and that she was not chosen for the post because of her religion.

She is believed to be the Arab world's first Jewish ambassador.

Ms Nonoo, 43, has served as a legislator in Bahrain's 40-member Shura Council for three years and is head of the Bahrain Human Rights Watch.

"It is a great honour to have been appointed as the first female ambassador to the United States of America and I am looking forward to meeting this new challenge," Ms Nonoo told the Associated Press news agency.

Her family is originally from Iraq, having moved to Bahrain over a century ago.

Bahrain has one of the world's oldest and smallest Jewish communities. It was, at one time, home to as many as 1,500 Jews. Today the community has a synagogue and numbers around 50 people.

Bahrain is a close US ally but has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

It has a Shia Muslim majority, roughly 65% of the population, but the ruling elite is Sunni.

Ms Nonoo is a businesswoman with homes in Bahrain and London.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

We Can Auction You, Too!

The following happened to someone close to me today (anonymity necessary). The person is African-American and the family member is Caucasian.

They had gone for dinner with their family member at a well-known local seafood restaurant.

When they got to the restaurant, it appeared that there was an auction in progress. People were hauling things out of the place - shelves, boxes, etc. Behind the restaurant, people were sitting underneath a tent bidding on the items they wanted to buy.

My friend and the family member weren't aware that the restaurant was closing. So my friend went in to find out what was going on while the family member waited alongside the river, gazing at the beautiful scenery.

When my friend exited the restaurant, my friend confirmed to the family member that the owner told my friend that indeed the place was closing and that there was an auction of the restaurant contents in progress.

Then the owner told my friend, "we can auction you, too!"

I guess the owner called himself being funny.

Can you believe it???!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

IWA 4th Annual Poetry Competition

As Salaamu Alaikum and Greetings of Peace:

In April, I wrote
here about the Islamic Writers Alliance 4th Annual Poetry Competition.

The entries have now been put up online
here for public voting!

Yes! That means you! You get to vote for the winner of your favorite poem!

Don't forget to check back to see who won.

Jazaka Allahu Khayr for supporting our project.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Muslim Hands - Helping China and Burma Earthquake Victims

Here's a Muslim organization that appears to be directly helping the people in China and Burma. Muslim Hands has an office in China.

From their website:

"Around the earthquake's epicentre in Wenchuan County and for miles around, homes, schools, offices and mosques have been levelled by the force of the earthquake.

Muslim Hands been working in China for a number of years and has a permanent field office in the Gansu Province.

An experienced team led by Daleel Ulkhairat (MH China) responded quickly to the disaster and have set-up camps in Mianyang City to assist survivors by providing plastic sheeting and shelter, hot cooked food, water and medical assistance.

Teams are also planning to enter two of the most devastated counties of Wenchuan and Beichuan as soon as roads are cleared of rubble and aid is able to flow.

Muslim Hands has launched an urgent appeal to provide further assistance to those affected by the devastating earthquake.

Please donate generously as your support will help save lives insha'Allah."

Reminder of The Last Day

All of the radio and television reports, as well as online features about the earthquake in China have reminders of the Last Day, Alhamdulillah.

Allah (swt) reminds us in the Quran that the dunya will be destroyed by an earthquake on the Last Day:

"When the earth is shaken with its (final) earthquake.
and when the earth throws out its burdens.
And man will say: "What is the matter with it?"
That Day it will declare its information (about all that happened over it of good or evil).
Because your Lord will inspire it.
That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds.
So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant) shall see it.
And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or of a small ant) shall see it."
- Surat Az-Zalzalah (The Earthquake) CXIX

"Do not invoke other gods besides Allah. There is no (true) god except Him. Everything will perish except His Face (i.e., except Him). To Him belongs the Judgment, and to Him will you be returned."
- Surat Al-Qasas 28:88 (The Narration) XXVIII

"The Horn will be blown. Whoever is in the heavens or on earth will then fall dead, except those whom Allah will spare...and at once they will all be standing and looking around them. "
- Surat Az-Zumar 39:68 (The Groups) XXXIX

"How can I feel secure when the Holder of the Horn has placed the Horn against his lips and has bent his forehead. He listens carefully, awaiting the command to blow so as to blow it."
- Recorded by Ahmad, at-Tirmithee, and others. Verified to be authentic by al-Albani
A reminder to all Muslims. Ameen!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The New Guantanimo?

(Afghan men in Kabul in February after they were freed from the United States prison at Bagram - Syed Jan Sabawoon/European Pressphoto Agency)

U.S. Planning Big New Prison in Afghanistan
Published: May 17, 2008

Officials are scaling back plans to shift prisoners into Afghan custody in a stark acknowledgment that the U.S. is likely to hold prisoners overseas for years.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Traditional Senegal Djembe - Wedding Party - These Sisters Rock!

Open Letters, Open Hearts - Call for Submissions

(Deadline for below will soon be extended to the end of June, Insha Allah. Please consider contributing to this worthwhile project!)

Submit your own open letter(s) by May 31, 2008 to this anthology-style da’wah project.

Open Letters, Open Hearts
Personal Letters from Muslims to Family, Friends and Others
Working Title: Open Letters, Open Hearts
Narrative Author/Editor: Christine (Amina) Benlafquih
Publisher: An-Najm Publishers, London, UK
New Deadline for Submissions: May 31, 2008 (see Guidelines below)

About the Book

The anthology-style Open Letters, Open Hearts will feature heartfelt letters written by Muslims who appeal to their family, friends and others to open their hearts and minds to the message of Islam.

Most of us have been touched and inspired by an emotional piece of writing. Something as simple as a greeting card or as lengthy as a novel can successfully evoke emotion in a reader. Whether raw and direct, or gentle and persuasive, the power of the written word can not be denied.

Muslims worldwide are invited to use this power and compose open letters which address the people and unique circumstances in their own lives from an Islamic perspective. Whether differences need to be solved, religious issues explained, or concern expressed about someone’s harmful life choices, a letter allows the writer to convey sincerity and present Islamic values and teachings in a positive, relevant light.

Read the rest here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

More Memes

As Salaamu Alaikum Folks:

OK - the second meme:

I was tagged by the lovely Otowi:


1. ON your blog, post the Rules & 10 things you have HOPE for in your life.
2. LINK Tag 10 people (we want hope to spread people!) and LINK the person who tagged you.
3. Comment/Notify the 10 People they’ve been tagged.

(All of the below are "Insha Allah" of course!)

1. I hope that our house closing happens on June 2 as scheduled.
2. I hope that I will write a book someday.
3. I hope that my health improves.
4. I hope that our children's library at the masjid grows and grows!
5. I hope that I will be successful in learning Arabic.
6. I hope that all the inmates I work with will eventually learn their salaat in Arabic from start to finish!
7. I hope that my step-son accepts Islam.
8. I hope that I will find the money and the assistance (wheelchair) to make Hajj.
9. I hope Barak Obama becomes President of the United States.
10. I hope that I lose weight.

Haaaaaaaaa ... anyone reading this who wants to participate, you are tagged!

More Memes

As Salaamu Alaikum!

Well, I've been tagged twice. I guess I can't ignore the tags anymore!

The first is from Miss Muslimah:

1. Last movie you saw in a theater: OMG! I can't even remember. I'm almost a senior citizen, you know! Anyhow, I'm too cheap. I wait for it to come out on DVD.

2. What book are you reading: The Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates.

3. Favorite board game: none. I don't play board games.

4. Favorite magazine? Hmmm. Don't have a favorite. I subscribe to Al-Jumuah, Islamic Horizons, and Lilith.

5. Favorite smells: Amber.

6. Favorite sounds: Quran.

7. Worst feeling in the world: anger.

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up: Coffee!!!!!!!!!

9. Favorite fast food place: NONE!!!!! I hate fast food.

10. Future child's name: none, Insha Allah. I'm almost a senior citizen remember?

11. Finish this statement: "If I had a lot of money, I'd ...." Hire someone to help me complete Hajj.

12. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal? Yes, my husband.

13. Storms - cool or scary? Definitely cool!

14. Favorite drink: water.

15. Finish this statement: "If I had the spare time, I would ..." go on a longggg vacation.

16. Do you eat the stems on broccoli? Yes!

17. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice? Red!

18. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in? New York City, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Harrisburg, Houston, and various small places in between.

19. Favorite sports to watch? Figure skating.

20. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you? she's sweet and shy (oh my, two things!)

21. What’s under your bed? storage boxes and cat toys

22. Would you like to be born as yourself again? yes

23. Morning person, or night owl? night owl!

24. Over easy, or sunny side up? scrambled

25. Favorite place to relax? in my house

26. Favorite pie? sweet potatoe

27. Favorite ice cream flavor? mint chocolate chip

28. Of all the people you tagged this to, who’s most likely to respond first? Allahu Alim ...

I tag anyone reading this who wants to participate!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Integrity - An Attribute of a Believer

I have always been known among my friends and colleagues to be a person of my word. When I say I'm going to do something, I do it. You can practically "take it to the bank" as the saying goes. Rarely, do I end up not doing what I say, and if circumstances are beyond my control, I will call and explain why I cannot do something. Integrity is a vital aspect of a Muslim's character. Breaking one's promise or word is among the attributes of the hypocrites. Narrated ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said: “There are four (characteristics), whoever has them is a hypocrite, and whoever has one of the four has a characteristic of hypocrisy unless he gives it up: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise he breaks it; what he makes a pledge he betrays it; and when he disputes he resorts to foul language.” (al-Bukhari, Muslim) More importantly, Allah (swt) warns us that "surely every promise shall be questioned about." (17:39)

I retired from my full-time job in November, 2007 after receiving a diagnosis of MS. Alhamdulillah, it's not as bad as it sounds, as I have the "chronic-relapsing" type of MS. That means that the symptoms come and go. The problem is that I never know when I'm going to have a bad day or few days. I don't want to lay down and give in to MS, so I have been trying to live as full of a life as possible, going on pursuing my interests and goals. More than ever, the phrase "Insha'Allah" has deep meaning for me.

The problem is that I cannot always keep my word. Ya Allah! This really distresses me. Some days I am unable to follow through with my commitments due to my health. I know that one is not considered a hypocrite for not keeping a promise if it is beyond the person's control, i.e., due to illness or something similar.

But I grieve. I grieve what I considered to be a valuable aspect of my character.

See, I am also a recovering drug addict. I have been clean, Alhamdulillah, 25+ years. I worked real hard in recovery to become a personal of integrity. When I was getting high, I was a sneak. Every word and action from me was a lie. Dishonesty was my code. Everything that came out of my mouth was bullshit. I'd say or promise you anything with the sole intention of getting over on you. The only thing you would depend on coming from me was that I was going to do whatever I had to do, one day at a time, to get another drink, another hit, another bag, another shot. My drug of choice was "more". When I got clean, I slowly learned how to be a productive member of society once again. I learned in recovery that integrity is a vital spiritual principle that the recovering addict MUST live by and incorporate into his character.

People trust me today.

As I go forward, I have to learn to slow down, while still continuing to live an active life as much as I can. The hardest part of it all is going to be learning how to say "no" when I want to do so much in life.

It's "back to basics" as we say in recovery. "Easy does it!" "One day at a time!" "First things first!"

Our Lord! Take us not to task if we forget or fall into error! (2:286)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Al-Huda Sunday School Library - Update



Jazaka Allahu Khayrn to our masjid board who shared the vision of a children's library, and who agreed to build these shelves for us! And to Linda Delgado (Sister Widad), owner of Muslim Writers Publishing (MWP),, and award-winning author of Islamic Rose Books (IRB),, who granted us a generous start-up award. MWP and IRB support literacy and Sister Widad dedicates the profits from the books she has authored toward buying books for Islamic school children's libraries. And to Brother Adnan A. Khattar, Sales Manager, of Islamic Book Store, Brother Adnan was very generous in offering the books to Sister Widad at a discount. He was also very efficient in shipping the books out to us in a timely manner.
We look forward to the growth of our children's library, Insha Allah. We are so thrilled with our initial efforts!
Masha Allah, the teachers and students at Al-Huda school thank both Sister Widad and Brother Adnan for their generosity and commitment to Muslim children. May Allah (swt) reward both of them immensely/Ameen.