Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

this made me feel better. Spreadin’ the news of peace and love  #WhatUp,Stand4Hussain




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Islam = Unity and Love

We all say the same thing in the end:

أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله و أشهد أن محمد رسول الله

I bear witness that there is no god but God and Muhammad (pbuh) is the messenger of God.

Yo atestigo que no hay dios mas que Dios y que Muhammad (La paz sea con él) es el mensagero de Dios.

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I recently came across an article talking about how Asra Nomani wants it to be a law that if mosques don’t allow women to pray in the musallah (main prayer section), they should not have tax exemption. I personally agree with the article in the sense that this demand infringes on the First Amendment rights of mosques, synagogues, temples, churches, etc. As the article says, there are a lot of factors of cultural practice, modesty, money and expansion issues that make this demand difficult for mosques. However,  it also made me think about the whole issue of “the women’s section.”

I personally prefer being in the same room as the men when I pray, I feel more unity within the whole community and I like seeing the khateeb instead of craning my neck to look at a TV screen so I feel like I’m being addressed, not just the brothers. However, I know some of my sisters prefer separate sections, for good reasons too. Modesty is always important to remember as Muslims, and if there’s a cute guy in the first row, you might not concentrate on God all that much, which is a pretty bad thing if you’re in a Masjid. So same room or not, I’m cool either way. I’m a pretty easy person to please.

But for me, this isn’t the main issue. The main issue is making the women’s section nice, beautiful, and spacious. Because let’s face it, some mosques have, I’m sorry, but pretty crappy women’s sections. You’re smashed in this little room/balcony where your kneeing other poor women, trying to pray comfortably without bumping into someone else’s butt.

Alhamdullilah, I have been able to find a Masjid where the women’s section is large, clean and really beautiful. It also has a clear barrier (it’s a balcony-type of thing) so if you sit in the front row, you can actually see the rest of the congregation and the khateeb. I always arrive early (like an hour early) so I can sit in the front and get more of that unity feeling. And actually, what is also nice, now that I think about it, is that I get my unity feeling but I still can’t see the brother’s faces (only backs of heads) and they can’t see me. See? Modesty preserved. And I feel so welcome and taken care of there. The women’s section is definitely on the same level as the men’s.

So Brothers, I ask you take care of the women. Instead saving up for the new chandelier, improve/refurbish the women’s section if you see it isn’t up to par with the men’s: be it a balcony, behind the men, to the side of the men, in another room etc. Expand it if it’s too small, put in new carpets,get chairs for our older sisters to sit in while they pray. Make sure it is a place you yourself would pray in if you were in the sisters’ position. And Sisters, if your section isn’t adequate, make your voices heard and demand improvement. The Prophet (pbuh) allowed women in the mosque and certainly did not force them into a corner. The Masjid is a place of worship and house of God for all Muslims.

I hope sincerely that rather than arguing about women being too demanding and men being misogynistic that people will instead think of making a trip to the Masjid something enjoyable for ALL. A trip where both brothers and sisters feel comfortable, welcome, protected and most of all, feel the presence of Allah (SWT). 

To end, here’s an article on MuslimMatters.org. It sparked quite a lively debate and both the article and the comments forced me to think about this issue in depth: http://muslimmatters.org/2010/11/27/telling-women-where-to-pray/

Also, if any of you don’t know about the Canadian show “Little Mosque on the Prairie” , but it’s definitely worth a watch. This episode which I found online is about the community dealing with the whole issue of a women’s section, barriers,etc. Worth a look 😀

Part 1 “The Barrier”
Part 2 “The Barrier”
Part 3 “The Barrier”

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A few months ago, I went to a conference for young adult Muslims and mashAllah it was Ah-mazing. I had just recently, like a few weeks recently, converted and I seriously felt Allah SWT presence that weekend (I mean God’s always present but you know what I mean). Additionally, I had an amazing time sharing a hotel room with some of my best friends even though I didn’t sleep much. Sessions/lectures ending at 1 AM, giggly Muslim girls and Fajr at 5 AM = little to no sleep.

So at this conference, there were obviously a lot of young Muslim men and women there. As I walked around, if I made eye contact with someone, I would smile at them, not thinking anything of it. But when it came to the brothers, many times I would either get A) a really weird long stare or a B) he’d quickly look away. I was so confused but then I realized, “OMG, what if I’m doing this wrong?! All these guys must think I’m in love with them and I want to get married!” I told my friends and they laughed and said not to worry about it. But the rest of the conference I went to the opposite extreme and kept my eyes cast down to the floor when I walked by a man.

Now, looking back at this situation, I giggle. I can imagine myself walking around grinning at everyone (I mean come on, I just converted. A girl can get a little excited about that right?) and then later on, staring at the ground like some emo kid. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with smiling at people. But a few people have told me that sometimes at Islamic gatherings, there are some people who are in a “marriage” state of mind and they are checking people out. So that’s probably what I looked like I was doing, even though that was not my intention AT ALL. I mean come on, I’m only 19, I’m not looking at the moment. But to be fair to those brothers that gave me a weird stare, they were probably walking around in fear of rishta (basically proposal) seekers lol.

I’m NOT AT ALL saying that we shouldn’t be modest, lower our gaze and all that good stuff. But I’m a friendly person, I’ll smile and say Salaam to someone regardless of their gender. And there’s a HUGE difference between that and OGLING at some poor sister or brother. Let’s know the difference between lust and friendliness, yes? Unfortunately as young Muslims we live in fear of the stares, ogling and gossip. And we’re more than a little obsessed with marriage. Read more these things here, here and here (Maniac Muslim always makes me laugh!) A really wonderful Sheikh I heard at the conference said something to the effect of this: Don’t be rude and ignore Fatima if she walks by just because she is a girl. But then again, there is a difference between “Salaam Fatima!” and “Hellooooooooooo Fatima!” *insert creepy stare here*

So next time I smile and say Salaam to you, please don’t think I want to marry you. All I really want to do is say hi to my fellow Muslim and be on my way. Thanks.

This really, really funny comic about how we as young Muslims sometimes freak out a little bit too much about marriage and relationships comes from http://www.ninjabi.com/ Her comics are hilarious I’m sure ya’ll will get a laugh. Check it out!Image Courtesy of: http://www.ninjabi.com/comic.php?comic=20

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Taqwacore is a “Muslim punk” movement that sprouted from Michael Muhammad Knight’s book The Taqwacores. There is now in addition to the book, a documentary and a movie based on the book, along with now many young Muslims accepting this as part of their identity. And there things such as sex, drinking and crossing out parts of the Qur’an that can be found shocking to say the least, I’m not going to sugarcoat that at all. However, aside from all that, I found that there is a really beautiful message. In the film (which follows the book well), there are many Muslim “outcasts” who all live in one house: The tattooed, the burqa-wearing feminist, the drinker, the gay man, the pot smoker, etc. Long story short: they aren’t your normal MSA crowd. There is something really beautiful to their faith because they are still proud Muslims, even when some other Muslims tell them that they don’t belong in the folds of Islam.

“The jamaat was an almost silly mish-mash of people: Rude Dawud’s pork-pie hat poking up here, a jalab-and-turban there, Jehangir’s big Mohawk rising from a sea of kufis, Amazing Ayyub still with no shirt, girls scattered throughout – some in hejab, some not and Rabeya in punk-patched burqa doing her thing. But in its randomness it was gorgeous, reflecting an Islam I felt could not happen anywhere else…. every Friday hearing khutbahs and standing alongside brothers and sisters together yelling AAAAAMEEEEEENNNN after Fatiha with enough force to knock you down….” (37)

Jehangir has some of the most moving moments, at one point in the film, when everyone is calling a more conservative Taqwacore band, “bigots,” he says,

“…we’re the ones who have always been f-in excluded, ostracized, afraid to be ourselves around our f-in brothers. They don’t build masjids for us….But let’s not play that bulls- game where once we get our own scene we can push people to the sidelines, to the f-in fringe like they did to us. Do you only want a community so you can make someone else feel like the Outsider?” (216)

Though some people might say Astaghfirullah, the message of this film is something people need to know. There is a problem in the Ummah when college students are chasing gay Muslim students who want to pray out of a prayer room with their shoes. Sad story but true. So before you start condemning this film, stop for a sec and look and see when you have ostracized your own sister or brother. Not that I want to sound like I’m pointing fingers because I know I’ve done it plenty of times. I’ve  thought, “They takes themselves too seriously.”  I’m now embarrassed. Who am I to question another’s faith? They might be right, and I might be wrong. I’m not God so what right do I have to judge their din?

In conclusion, Taqwacore might not be my lifestyle. But I’m now okay with the fact that Spanish rolls off my tongue more easily than Arabic (I’m trying, I promise! lol), that my family has dogs who I love dearly (they’re not allowed in the room where I pray) and I’m okay with the way I dress. And I am also okay with the brother who won’t shake my hand or who won’t pet a dog. That’s his practice and I have mine.  The Taqwacores have made me appreciate and respect the diversity of Islam.

And also read Caffeinated Muslim’s review of Taqwacores on her blog. She makes some same (yay for acceptance!) and some different commentary. And on Sepia Mutiny there is also a review of  The Taqwacores and Taqwacore band the Kominas (Sharia Law in the USA . LOVE this song.) that is worth the read: Halal Punkers.

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