Archives for category: Muslims

Somebody wanted to build me a studio.  With sunlight entering from three sides.  He wanted to see the things I spoke about come alive in the air – or at least on canvas.

But I spoke so sloppily.  The things I said were obvious.  Did you see the way that yellow flower looks up at the sky?

Show me, he said, reaching for the canvas I had stretched yesterday.  He was a simple man and the sloppy was sweet and the yellow flower was me and everything seemed to look up.

But what I wanted to say would never come out of my mouth.  Did you see the way the burnt grass lies idle underneath a thousand footprints?

Water is more important than the sun in the sky.  So I ran out into the rain.  And he lay idle.

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It was my son who was flabbergasted by the Al-Maghrib teacher’s tweets/memes/remarks. I’m in the kitchen preparing dinner and he makes a sound from the family room. It’s a weird sound, one that I don’t hear him making often, like a breath intake cut short by a “whaaaa?”.  Then he says, coherently this time,  this guy says what?

My son proceeds to read aloud what’s making him so speechless, something posted on twitter: “Int’l Women’s Day is great, but starting tomorrow, it’s 364 International Men’s Days again, so stick that in your oven and cook it.”

This tweet was from a man who says he’s an Imam and Scholar. Later, he posted a meme that said Don’t Try to Understand Women. Women Understand Women and They Hate Each Other.

In response to the outcry, he followed that with this classy one,

that escalated quickly

Imam and Scholar? Really, Al-Maghrib?

My son is a typical eighteen year-old in that he loves everything delivered with a side of humor. Just this past weekend he emceed the improv performances for a Muslim youth event. He sees a funny angle to most everything.

That he saw no humor in this Imam’s words was hopeful. That he pointed out the incredulity in this Imam’s statements made me happy; I had raised a Muslim Male Ally, someone who will see through the schlock of those in the Muslim community who conveniently push aside the remembrance that our beloved Prophet challenged misogyny from the early days of Islam.

Here’s the scary part: that some Muslim sisters applauded this Imam’s train of absurd comments. I can only think that these sisters have somehow been spared from seeing the realities of what women and girls suffer around the world due to inequity.

And is there a funny part to all this? Perhaps it’s the well-written salvos equating those who took offense to the Imam’s words as being in that ever-dreaded camp of “secular-western-femi-nazis”. How droll. And unique?

Nice try but you can’t slam this one shut in that filing cabinet drawer.

We’re opening the drawers up. It’s time for some “Spring Cleaning”.

Recently I was told that I don’t represent Islam. My Muslimness wasn’t the real thing, being of the Canadian sort.  The way it came out, it was like my Islam was kind of flaky, not AUTHENTIC.

I was told all this by a non-Muslim.

It mainly had to do with the fact that I find the honor-thing really perplexing. Upon sharing my confusion regarding this, I was told that it’s part of my religion, didn’t I know?  That it’s such a very intrinsic part of Islam?

I’ve been a Muslim my entire life, an extremely proud one from the age of sixteen, brought up in a religious household, taught by a father who’s an Islamic scholar, nurtured by a variety of Muslim communities, camps, conferences and never ever once was I informed that “honor” is a part of Islam.

Needless to say, the encounter with the Islamic “expert” left me reeling. No matter how many times I tried to refer to the sources of my religion, I was talked over and repeatedly told that I don’t know my own faith.

It doesn’t help that there exists awful cases of Muslims doing horrible things to each other. But the world is full of people doing horrible things to each other.

Only a bigot would hear of a crime and immediately attribute it to a religion or culture or race. It seems that bigotry rules the day in many parts of the world when it’s so mainstream for news media to attribute crimes to Islam, so unabashedly. Perhaps that’s why this expert felt so expert about Islam – perhaps the experts on Fox News or CNN had given him all the facts.

I thought back to all the horrific crimes I’d read about recently. I tried to deconstruct my own thought processes (on hindsight) regarding the Steubenville Rape case and the Newtown shootings.

There wasn’t an instance when I attributed these crimes to the culture they occurred in. But I know what would have happened if the perpetrators had been Muslim.

We would have all been schooled on what Islam was all about, by people who don’t know the first thing about it.

So here’s what I’ve thought about before commencing to open up commonplacer again:

The blogosphere is essentially a carefully zoned (organically carefully zoned for the most part) virtual space of massive proportions.  When I left CP for more than 8 months, I realized it was like moving away from somewhere I’d felt at home at.  I began another blog in a new ‘hood.  The Young Adult writing zone.  I built up some followers, but I felt kind of sad.  I missed this niche over here.

I also realized, with the closing-up-shop of a handful of other blogs that I’d been faithfully following via Google Reader, that it’s important to keep up the little space on the web that we carve out for ourselves.  It just feels good to read someone familiar.

I sometimes think about how important our part is in this mega-medium that commentary via the internet has become.  It’s like the transformations that happened in literary history when people began thinking about reading in new ways via serialized content (a la Dickens) or just about any other change in previously established lit norms.

It’s just fascinating and I enjoyed blogging here so yes, dad and others, I’m back.

(Can you tell I’m excited? Two posts in one day, woah!)

In 1998, I had the experience of extensively visiting four countries in two months.  In each of these countries, I encountered the lovable mosques offered to me.  (Some were un-offered as I am female).  This was way before I began blogging and I wrote a whole imaginary post on the unity of the global mosque experience.  And the washroom experiences therein.  (The best was in London, England. The worst was in…I shall not say in order to protect the reputation of that beloved country.)

Yesterday, in the middle of a bustley day, we stopped by a downtown spot to pray.  It had a secluded, alcoved spot for women.  It was lovely.  In the middle of this bustley day, it felt perfect to have a bit of quiet one-on-one time with Allah.

Usually, I’m not the type that gets excited at cordoned-off zones for women.  I love seeing the Imam when I listen to the Khutba – as I get to do at the mosque I attend regularly.  But I also love it when I occasionally get to visit the mosques that separate women so entirely.  I only recently discovered (maybe within the last five years) how much I love them.  Love them occasionally* that is.

The quietude that descends in these places is almost blissful.

Perhaps I see them this way because I visit these mosques on road trips, hectic errand days or while vacationing.  While juggling a happening day, a spot of dedicated prayer space anywhere is just beautiful.

But in almost all these mosques, no matter how different, you will find the following lovableness:

  • a variety of jumbled flip-flops hanging around somewhere – some lonesomely single; others, mismatched but companionably so. No, I wasn’t meaning this to be a metaphor for the state of marriage in the Muslim community – it just ended up being so.
  • an extraordinarily sweet older woman who kindly assists you in some way and then asks you where you’re from and then tells you she is from Bulgaria/Egypt/Pakistan/Somalia/Bosnia and then kisses you so much while asking you to pray for her family and their problems…the ones from Pakistan say all this in urdu but you can string it all together due to past experiences with extraordinarily sweet older women.  The last one I met was from the Ukraine.  She helped me find the women’s washroom – which happened to be situated at the end of a maze.  And I did pray for her family as the imprint of her numerous kisses reminded me right at my nightly dua time.
  • a stinky feet smell permeating the shoe zone and each time you inhale, you berate yourself for not being more active in offering your volunteering services to clean a mosque, any mosque.
  • numerous computer printed signs in the washrooms reminding people to be clean/keep it clean.  Some are misspelt, some don’t make total sense, but alhamdulillah, they all recognize the importance of reminding Muslims multiple times about something.   Nagging works in our community.  At least I think so, judging by the reduction in sopping wet counters and slippery, lawsuit-worthy floors in the mosques I’ve visited recently.
  • a cute jumble of Qur’ans on a shelf/cart/on something more special than its surroundings…sometimes even Qur’ans in a variety of languages.  It just warms your heart so much to see that Cantonese copy of Allah’s words in a predominantly Indo-Pak mosque.  Almost nothing screams  “our global Muslim family” more poignantly.  Or, “I inherited a box of Muslim World League dawah project Qur’ans in all sorts of obscure languages and I am going to do a mosque run around town to dispose of them in a way which warms my heart and yours”.
  • a corkboard overflowing with flyers, ads, that basement apartment Ahmed has available for rent, that apartment Muhammed is looking to rent, that baby-sitting (with free Qur’an recitation classes thrown in) that Safiyyah will provide…and that care-giver Zainab desperately needs…can’t we all just start a Muslim craigslist, people?  Because, while I know it might be working (as evidenced by the number of phone number tear-offs Safiyyah’s ad has received – sort of like an ancient way of gauging the number of hits a web-site’s getting), it just hurts my head to see it all shoved together like that.  But apparently, it doesn’t hurt anyone else’s heads and that is just so heartwarming – that almost every mosque proudly boasts its prized collection of random announcements and offerings/wantings.  The bigger the mosque, the bigger the cork real-estate.  I love it.

What else is there that’s lovably the same between our mosques?  And if anyone knows about a Muslim craigslist, I’d love to learn about it!

These flip-flops are suitable paired, alhamdulillah. (Photo by Paul Keller)

*I say this know quite well that I have a choice in terms of the mosques I experience, whereas many women do not have that luxury and instead deal with always being ushered into dungeon-like premises in order to pray.

(so sorry for the sensational post titles)

“Matt Damon Disappointed with Obama

Matt Damon, up for the role of a Kennedy, is not satisfied with Barack Obama’s performance. The actor said Obama’s health-care proposal and Afghanistan track record have left him disappointed. Damon, who campaigned for the Democrat in 2008, said: “Politics is compromise. I’m disappointed in the health-care plan and in the troop build-up in Afghanistan.” Damon, meanwhile, confirmed he was in talks for a role as Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, the brother of the late President John F Kennedy, in a yet-to-be-titled biopic. Robert was assassinated in 1968 in Los Angeles. He added: ‘Everyone feels a little let-down because, on some level, people expected all their problems to go away. But real change comes from everyday people. You can’t wait for a leader.’
In other news, here’s one everyday person (well, award-winning everyday person) with courage to change things. Like people’s perceptions. And if you can do it on a subway wearing a thobe, you have real guts.  Go Boonaa! 🙂

I just realized I didn’t say anything in February (on my blog that is).

Just a quick hi (so that I don’t have any month in the 2010 archives (insha’Allah) whence i didn’t say anything).  🙂

I’m working away writing (too much according to my soulmate).

Insha’Allah I hope to post soon.

Once upon a time, there was a time when there squeezed through the bustlings of my day a little bubble (pink, faintly bubble-gum smelling) of time – just enough to write something down…and, lo and behold, with some key-tapping, it would be something that could be read by readers out there somewhere. Oh whither that bubble?

I miss blogging.  But I don’t miss writing as I’ve been doing that pretty consistently since my official year off work began.  My book, well, bookS now (when one takes a snooze, I turn my mind to the otherS) is/are coming along slowly but surely – with Allah’s help.

But I miss blogging because when one is blogging, keeping up with reading bloggers and discussing things, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of what we’re about – in real-time, in actual-history.  And now, to be shut away (even if by choice), it feels rather peculiarly lonesome.

One of the bloggers whom I used to lurk at before I launched on my own, Ali Eteraz, just came out with his book, Children of Dust.  I haven’t had the chance to read it – but as he was a captivating writer, I think I will need to pick it up.  I am still holding out that he takes up writing a book he had once described called The Poverty of the Prophet.  As I remember from a brief excerpt he published, it was unique in its ability to so compellingly capture the moving simplicity of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

While I am tapping away on my story, I am constantly trying to rein my cart in before the horse…I so want this year to be fruitful in finishing a book.  Even if it does not see the light of publishing day, I feel like that song by the beatles, blackbird…I was waiting all my life for this moment to arrive… to become a writer.

Well, I like to think I became a writer in grade seven when my homeroom teacher, who had the reputation for being the strictest in the school, called me to her desk on the first day and asked in a stern voice if I really did write the “What I did this summer” essay on my own.  I quakingly said yes.  For two weeks, she watched me carefully every time we got assigned something to write and then finally, called me again to that majestic desk and handed me a paper marked with an A+ and asked me if I knew that I was a writer.   I quakingly said no.  I did not know anything definable about myself besides Muslim, girl and perhaps, brown? Muslim Brown Girl.  Now Ms. Z. made me Muslim Brown Girl Writer and it felt good.

So this moment has arrived and I try to take the pressure off by devoting all my energy to making googly-eyed breakfasts for my daughter and packing heartier, healthier lunches for my son, and growing more in gratitude to the Merciful One for the love He allowed to fall into my life through my awesome husband,  and by having so much fun with the condo:

 (and my favorite, the beginnings of a library!)

but the moment has arrived – to write, to finish and to have and hold: A BOOK.  Written by a Muslim brown girl, insha’Allah.

(But please remember, I still miss blogging.  And I’m thankful that some of you still miss me and keep googling commonplacer.wordpress only to find nothing updated…I so sorry.  Perhaps, at that point, you can say a prayer that I finish my book. 🙂  )

It’s so nice to hear this from an American president.  Alhamdulillah.

A Saturday afternoon to myself! How did that come about? I can’t say I miss the old days as a single mom when I had many a Saturday afternoons to myself – to write, to take a nap on the white sofa in the sunlight, to swim and to chat with friends and make plans for the evening.   Wait, that sounds so lovely that it sounds like I miss it.  Ok, so while I absolutely love being married, the solitary Saturdays are like drops of… of… of something sustenance-ing.

My husband is working on a project, my daughter is at a BFF sleepover – extended version, my sonS (stepson too – with us for the summer) are with their uncle.  And I is alone.  Sigh (of sustenance).

The vestiges of the whirlwind of a summer we found ourselves in are still in the hallway to be unpacked – we just returned from a camping trip yesterday. My husband and I get exhausted when we rhyme off all the things we’ve enjoyed, done, encountered, endured, accepted, planned, etc just in the month of July.  Let’s just say that they involved, among other things,  3 separate road trips, baseball season for my 13 year old, a hospital stay and balcony gardening battling with the wind (he says he has learned not to garden 19 stories up, I say I’ve learned to choose more hardier plants – and you should see the extra tough sweet peas that bloomed!) And I forgot to add that the summer also involved two step-sibling 9 year olds lugging around their stuffed panda and dog, each stuffed into their very own mini-sleeping bags, all the way over to east coast U.S.A. , Quebec and Ontario wilderness – all the while alternating seamlessly between bickering and being the bestest of friends.

I think I’ll go nap on the white sofa now.

Only Yusuf Islam could do a love song to his spouse and God (second part) all in one.  I’m missing my husband as he is out of town for a few days and this song just so beautifully captures the Islamic view of love between spouses… It’s from his new album, Roadsinger.

Looking forward, insha’Allah to many things…getting married, blending families, sharing and more sharing. Also, looking forward to Ramadan, the most beautiful of months which is just around a-not-so-distant corner. And I just love this ultra-cute children’s video of one of the blessings of Ramadan: increased time at the mosque.

I’m a jumble of random, eclectic interests so I will succumb to myself and write about…

1. I didn’t think Maclean’s had it in them… but having given up on getting any sense of balanced news from the mag for a long while now, I was surprised when a brother from work indicated there was something worthy in the Feb 25th issue. Page 16 features an interview with ex-CIA spy Graham Fuller which tells it like it is. Apparently Fuller has an article in Foreign Policy under the provocative title: A World Without Islam which further describes his views.

2. Wilson Bentley. He spent his adult life taking pictures of snowflakes using a special microscopic camera. His work helped show that no two snowflakes – because of moisture, temperature, wind differences – were ever alike. “I found that snowflakes were masterpieces of design. No one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted…just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.” His work – painstakingly photographing snowflakes in the late 1800’s – was an attempt to capture a record of the Divinely designed.

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Wilson Bentley

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a modern interpretation

3. I smiled a tiny smile to myself today at school. We’d been studying black civil rights leaders and how they held on to their dreams for a better world. The students worked on imagining and recording what these dreams must have been on a sheet that had pictures of the leaders as youngsters in one corner and then them as adults in the opposite corner (all smiling because some of their dreams had come true!) As a follow up, the students were to record their own aspirations for the world on a sheet with actual photos of them now and imagined, drawn pictures of them as adults. One of the girls came up to me and asked me how do you draw a hijab? I showed her and then asked her why? Because, she said, I’m going to wear one when I’m an adult so I need to draw it on my later picture. I smiled into my dark blue hijab.

Lots more on this at ABC news.

These accounts of a man and two women who came to her defense were among a tiny minority:

Back in the bakery, the next customers had a very different answer to the question of American identity. First we met a man who angrily refused to buy anything when the sales clerk refused to serve Sabina. When our actor chastised him for being a “bad American,” he begged to differ. “I believe I am a good American,” he said. “My son just came back from serving in the army for over a year in Iraq and that has nothing to do with her [Sabina’s] rights. I am deeply offended by this.”

We also met two young women who refused to let our sales clerk’s hateful words go unchecked. “Sir, we are not buying our kolaches because you are really offensive and disgusting,” one said. “Just because she’s dressed like that doesn’t mean anything,” said the other, a Muslim-American woman herself. Rather than simply taking their business elsewhere, the young women demanded to speak to the manager, and they also challenged our sales clerk’s definition of “American.” “She’s American. She’s American. I’m American. You’re the one that’s anti-American right now,” one said to the sales clerk.

When he refused to budge and our actress turned to leave, the two women walked out with her in a show of support.

But at least there was a tiny minority, right? God bless the real Americans.

Here’s what Superbowl Sunday looked like for 1 male (a boy-male) living with 2 females (his mom and sister) in a PBS-supporting (i.e. no cable TV), granola-crunching (i.e. junk food-free) home: It being a special day, the male will get to eat dinner (whole wheat al dente pasta with mustard-seed infused sauce and melted cheese) in his room while LISTENING to the game on radio – having learned the fine art of listening to sports on the radio from his uncle (another firm believer in tv-less/tv-reduced existences), the male is actually excited about the prospect. He decides to gather snacks (dried fruit) to really enliven the experience. As he is in hunting and gathering mode, he notices the 13-inch almost black and white TV in the sparse living room. Could it work to bring in fare other than wholesome and educational programming? He gives it a try – and scores! The dried snacks and wholesome dinner are moved onto a quilt spread over the sisal rug and he is in superbowl heaven.

Now at all other times/sports, I’d be there with my boy-male (we’ve cheered hockey play-offs, soccer cups, baseball, basketball), but I am useless as a football watching buddy. I’m resigned to the fact that a. I will never understand football (and I’m okay!) and b. I will never be a skateboarder (he tried to teach me one summer… and to get him to stop I bought him a really cool and expensive backpack with straps to carry his skateboard along with him everywhere. It worked.)

I went to bed early and was woken up to be informed that the Patriots had lost to the Giants and all because of somebody named Eli Manning. I patted him on the arm (he was a Patriot fan) and mumbled “next time the Patriots will get more baskets in, I’m sure” and turned over and went back to sleep.

——————————————-

Today I was a spectator sport for a small group of pressed-nose children. One of my students – who has a Muslim mother and a non-Muslim father – gave me a beautiful prayer rug as a holiday gift. He’s become fascinated with the “hidden” Muslim part of him ever since – as his mother had kept her religion out of the picture since she got married. At the end of almost every day he asks, are you going to pray on my prayer mat now? I’d nod yes and after all the students had left, I’d do just that.

Today he lingered longer and asked why he would see me heading down the hall before I prayed. I explained I had to make wudu in the washroom down the hall. He asked if it was ok if he watched me from the hall window while I prayed today. I said sure.

I forgot to tell him that I don’t speak while I’m in prayer. So after a while I hear him waving another student down the hall. “Come see Ms. K praying!”

I hear the girl asking “are you sure it’s ok with Ms. K if I’m watching?” Student number one opens the classroom door, “Ms. K, is it ok if S watches too? Is it? Ms K? Maybe Ms. K will tell us when she gets up from the floor.”

I broke my prayer at this point (laughing and praying don’t go together) and turned around and said yes, S, you can watch. They politely close the door and press themselves to prime spots on the window.

I start again and then I hear student number one telling an older student who asked what they were doing, “It’s Ms. K, she’s praying.” “Praying for what?” “Praying, like talking to God. You wanna watch?” “Ok” “But you have to ask first.”

The door opens again. “Ms. K, is it ok if this guy watches too? Ms. K? Wait, Ms. K will tell you after she’s gone down to the ground.”

This time I decide to ignore the requests for more tickets. They wait quietly with the door open and I hear additional boots stopping by my door. When I finish my salaams, I almost expect a round of applause but I’m just met with a circle of interested faces. I wave goodbye to each one and thank God again I get to work amongst such souls.

“Though a living cannot be made at art, art makes life worth living. It makes living, living. It makes starving, living. It makes worry, it makes trouble, it makes a life that would be barren of everything — living. It brings life to life.

“Art is the response of the living to life. It is therefore the record left behind by civilization”

-John Sloan

I came by my parents after attending an arts conference today and asked my dad a question: what’s the background of why so many Muslims are averse or have a deep fear/suspicion of the arts – especially of what they consider “Western” arts? Why did my daughter’s class at the Islamic school she attends have to cancel their field trip to see a play because some parents were concerned about the music/singing in it? Isn’t singing and the seeking of ways to communicate via rhythms an inherent part of the human psyche – so evident is it in every indigenous culture?

My poor dad, nursing his thigh – bruised from playing an over-excited game of floor hockey with my son, began listing all the great achievements of Muslims in the field of the arts from the golden era of Islam. I, so bubbly from being around other artsy people all day, pressed further: but what about now? Why is there a virtual slugfest in the comments section of too many online clips featuring artistic Muslims? Isn’t the seeking of ways to communicate via visual means also an inherent part of the human psyche – so evident is it in the cave paintings of Lascaux?

My poorer dad, shifting his weight in the sofa, began reviewing some of the protectionist thinking that began to infiltrate after the golden era of Islam. I, fidgety to get started on writing for a performance project for school now after getting inspiration from the conference, kept on: but why is this protectionist thinking so prevalent here and now? Why is it that Muslim artistic efforts are too often evaluated for how “western” or that other dreaded word, “modern” or sometimes conversely, how backwardly “pagan” they are? Isn’t it natural to communicate via the cultural currency one’s human psyche grows up in – so evident is it from the development of Muslim music such as qawwalis…and, yes, rap and, yes, country and, yes, alternative/indie (er, no, for that particular genre, we’re still in the early development stages)?

My now suffering dad, suddenly stood up and hobbled up the stairs…to get me an answer to my questions? He came back down surprisingly fast (I guess he was inspired himself by all the artsy talk – I know my dad’s a poet at heart) and pointed to something he had said in an article years and years ago: Muslims have been stuck in the unfortunate mode of defining themselves by how different they are from those around them for too long now. So, too many things are filtered through the lens of if it’s part of this culture, then it’s not part of our culture.

I was satisfied – for now. I decided to spare my dad my final question: why did some parents at an Islamic School protest the reading aloud of The Three Little Pigs because pork is haram? Isn’t it normal to read a book not eat it?

I’ll save that one for after hockey season.

Ahem… this blog is just over a year old now. I first officially began it in December, 2006 but then revamped it and launched it again in January 2007. So I’m trying to think of something to say on my blog’s first anniversary…and I’m coming up empty-inked.

I could tell you why I began it: 1. I’m always writing things down all over the place anyways and here was a central, environmental way to do it. 2. By pressing the publish button, I get to say things about our world without appealing to media gatekeepers to allow me to say it. 3. A friend told me if you (Muslims) don’t tell your own stories, the empty pages will always get filled with skewed impressions and/or forged “facts” constructed by others.

I chose the name CommonPlacer because I actually had a nice old black leather book called S.K’s CommonPlace Book which was filled with all sorts of stuff I’d collected over time – info stapled in, glued in, tucked in, drawn in, scribbled in. (Did you know the Mediterranean food pyramid says to eat meat only once monthly? And that Maya Angelou said “we may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated?” and that, in Canada , it’s possible to be sentenced to over a year in jail for promoting hate through the internet? These are some of the things that I noted I had noted previously. Sounds a lot like my blog.) Plus, if I had my glasses on now, I would reach up to push them back on my nose as I told you that Klaus Baudelaire is my greatest commonplacing hero, even before Emerson or Hardy. Plus, I would also tie my hair up with a ribbon like Violet Baudelaire as I told you that wiki says “some modern writers see blogs as an analogy to commonplace books.”

When I began this blog, I just wanted a “spot to place things that came my way.” But after a while my desire to become a “prolific” writer made me try to write almost 3 or 4 times a week. I quickly discovered it’s hard to be a prolific anything when you’re working full-time as a single parent and teacher. So I settled for whenever I had a spot of time. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with me over the course of this year. I’ve met some wonderful people through CommonPlacer – for whom I actually have 1 question: is facebook slowly killing blogs? We all need to update, friends (and rockstars)!

Wow, that’s a lot of empty ink.

A Land Called Paradise is

#68 – Most Linked (This Week) – Music
on YouTube!
plus, as of the time of this post, the:
#22 – Most Discussed (This Week) – Music
#65 – Most Viewed (This Week) – Music
#26 – Top Favorites (This Week) – Music
#33 – Top Rated (This Week) – Music

If you think it’s the right message we need to get out, please tag 5 others to post it on their blogs…

I tag asmaa, proggiemuslima, hadeel, noha and margari (i kinda only tag sisters, but brothers you can play tag if you want to as well …) I also tag the sister I always wish I could link to but can’t – you know who you are. Oh yeah, and I tag my real brother!

(Of course, mona beat everyone to it – but still I’d love it if you tag 5 more of your friends out there, mona!)

If you live in the U.S., you can vote for it (for the onenationforall.org film contest) here.
And please try to to go to Youtube and give it a rating there. I hope the director of this awesome video, Lena Khan, continues with her amazing work.

A colleague was talking about the need for children to have more exposure to personalities who have responded pro-actively and peacefully to global problems so… my sister and I thought this up:


Creative Commons License

Are we forgetting someone in the line-up of “peace providers”? Please let me know.

I love…mindless housework. You know when you get in the zone and you’ve totally scrubbed out your kitchen and didn’t even feel it? I was like a miss molly maid zombie (or is it a stepford wife?) and voilà just like that, I could eat off my floors.

Actually it was really mindfull housework – while mopping, scrubbing etc’ing, I was thinking about Aqsa and The Friday Khutbahs. “The Friday Khutbahs”: when you are so sure that all the sermons in your area (and maybe beyond) are going to be about a certain topic – either because it’s in the news or because it’s a particular day (like environmental khutbahs during Earth Week).

I was curious on Friday morning about what was going to be said at the mosques about Aqsa’s murder and the talking points it raised. I’ve gushed about my Islamic center previously, but I just have to gush again! The khateeb was just so phenomenal masha’Allah that I waited for him afterwards and asked him for a copy of his khutbah.

He spoke about our relationships with others and how Allah has never, ever sanctioned compelling another to believe, do as we say or dress or behave a certain way. That our jobs even as parents is merely to guide/train/educate through the guiding years and that when a child hits maturity, we are to stand back and let them make their choices – but of course offer our continued guidance and friendship. That in no way does forcing someone to do as we believe benefit us or them and instead how it harms both of the parties. With poignancy (I knew he was thinking of his own 2 beautiful daughters), he asked the congregation, isn’t it much more better to have a child that is alive – living her life perhaps not as we envisioned it, perhaps even “wrong” in our eyes (his words), but alive – rather than gone in an even worse wrong: the taking of sacred life?

And he spoke about false “honor”. How, for some, the shame (in front of others) of having a daughter “living her life perhaps not as we envisioned it, perhaps even “wrong” in our eyes” was much stronger than the awareness of God – and how this was a form of disbelief.

This to me was the most powerful part of the khutbah. Using examples from the Prophet’s life, the Shaikh related that by according undue power to the perceptions of people, we are distancing ourselves from the power we accord to God. Does it matter what others will say about how one’s daughter dresses? Isn’t it more important that God sees how we treat that daughter – with the tender and obvious love the Prophet (peace be upon him) showed his daughters instead of the violence of a twisted sense of honor? This was the focus of his khutbah.

Hearing this beautiful khutbah and then turning to read that a Muslim leader said “parents fail and bring shame upon themselves if a child chooses to abandon holy writings and not wear the hijab” (paraphrased in an article) was disheartening. I wonder how prophet Nuh would take that.

I surveyed around and found out that other khutbahs were in a similar vein to my Islamic center’s. One was about the Prophet’s relationship of tenderness and respect with his daughter Fatima and another was focused on how in order to encourage children, parents should focus on their positive points and build a relationship of good-will.

A young girl is gone and we all derive lessons. May Allah, in His infinite mercy, show mercy on her soul. And may He grant us the wisdom to see through the depravity of false honor.

Back in the day, when my communications prof spoke about the power-to-come of the “world wide web” (you had to say the whole thing back then), the entire class laughed in disbelief. He said we were going to do our shopping through it, get our daily news from it and even hook up to get married by it. No, this wasn’t in the 80’s. It was the mid-90’s. And we were all “avant-garde” Mass Comm. majors. And we still laughed at him.

Now I’m not laughing any more. I’m sadly bemused. It’s about the Brass Crescent Awards – I can’t understand the noise around it. And some of the noise is getting nasty. (Shopping. Newsreading. Marrying. Bickering. Very powerful, this power-that-came.)

To my novice-blogger understanding, the BCA was created to recognize and encourage the excellence of Muslim writers/blogs out in the “world wide web”. It’s in its 4rth year and is run through a nomination process. I’m not big on number crunching type stuff so I’ll spare you (and myself) the exact formula they decided on to choose the winners for this year (which apparently is different from other years).

I love it when Muslims think big. (Bigger than teddy bears, anyhow.) When we affirm each other (and other others) and when we see the potential/good out there. So I don’t understand some of the pointedly sharp chatter re: the BCA’s crop of nominated blogs.

Some might read this and say but she’s not digging into the deeper stuff – like whose ideology (i.e. the wrong one!) is being spotlighted through the awards etc. (I put the etc in there fast because I don’t want to list some of the other weird things people are digging up). To that, I’ll answer: I prefer to leave McCarthyism to McCarthy and the last time I checked, freely accusing others by name of disbelief was a serious crime (and reeked of a really wrong ideology itself).

I came upon the Brass Crescent Awards last year (in my pre-blogging days) and was impressed to see such a venture had actually been thought up, appeared professional and glad that it steered me towards some worthy reads.

I’m not going to deny that there could be some tweaking that could be done – like I agree that having the categories of Best Mideast/Central Asian Blog and Best South/Southeast Asian Blog makes it appear as though these blogs weren’t part of the Best Blog category – only the Western ones were. It’s not supposed to be like the (American) Academy Awards with its Best Foreign Film category – the BCA is supposed to the best of Muslim blogs on the “world wide web”.

But these are fixable things we speak of. And if they don’t get fixed and even if they do, I also see nothing wrong if detractors put together another award – with their own spectacular, professional, affirming visions; after hearing a brilliant speaker, years ago, describe the process of pulling ourselves out of this muck our ummah is stuck in, I no longer think in terms of the oft-whined mantra of “but we need to be united before we can proceed”. It’s not being disunited to have another Muslim blogger award. It’s not even re-inventing the wheel (the horror) – it’s simply diversifying. And though I’m no MBA, I’ve kind of caught on to the fact the diversifying is the way to go in this day and age.

Do I make sense here or am I sounding naive?

I have a confession to make: I have 44 unpublished posts; some on controversial topics, some unfinished, a couple of reviews that just need some tweaking and some which deserve to stay unpublished.

I’m sure that this is some sort of record – 44 posts.

I can’t figure out why I don’t want them posted – they’re not personal or diary-like; they’re actually more like articles and op-ed pieces.

I guess I’m having some sort of blog-crisis… And I’m going through a phase of questions again. The last time was back then.

Recently, I had some opportunities to see rigorous ignorance/deliberate prejudice in action. They were quite astounding – maybe because there was a stretch without much of it for a (medium) while in my life. Having grown up in a pretty activist family, I’ve learned not to have any qualms about speaking up when faced with such stuff. And while in L.A., I saw a very moving, standing-ovation earning play about the awakening of an Oklahoman-Cherokee teen’s activist conscience; upon hearing of her little brother’s shame at being “Indian”, the teen went from reserved athlete to a vocal challenger of her high school’s choice of a native mascot. The play resonated with me – it was seeing the injustice of the first American venture into Iraq which made me go from quiet hijabi in the corner to requesting a meeting with my high school principal to ascertain that the war was going to be covered with sensitivity by teachers.

But now I wonder about the fervor we feel to right injustice. Often, that fervor comes from pride or anger. Witness the bluster behind the indignation at Muslim-baiting set-ups – like idiotic cartoons. You know there’s a lot of anger driving those pumping fists.

When our intentions are based purely on the Qur’anic injunction to “stand forth in justice”, it would be natural to extend that fervor to addressing all injustices; if we are told by our Shuyukh that even a small insect killed unjustly will come before God on the day of judgment to plead its case, than it makes sense to ensure that our energies go into securing justice for all.

So during these acts of ignorance I witnessed recently, I of course spoke up. Some of the things were directed at Muslims, some at the homeless, some at African-Americans; but after articulating my views, I had to examine my intentions over and over. Was I just being indignant? How far do you stand forth without sounding like a broken record?

And I also wonder about the people who get all worked up about the tarnishing of Islam but who don’t give two hoots about Islam itself. I once asked someone quite frankly, “what is this Islam you spent so much time defending?” If you’re willing to commit crimes for it, we don’t want you to defend it. If you’re willing to blatantly flout its very essences – peace and mercy – by your actions, we don’t need your pumping fists. Those fists will just end up punching us where it hurts.

Illness fell shortly after I wrote this blurb on the 12th:

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On the weekend I felt like I was in a comic strip.

My parents have a smallish-medium sized wild backyard. It’s a maverick backyard because it’s the only one from amongst its neighbors which has a back fence totally lined with trees. There must be at least 15 – some growing into and out of the fence. And then there are three cherry trees (oh those cherries are the best) and a huge maple tree. Huge.

So you can imagine what it looks like in the fall.

So I went out on Sunday and proceeded to fill up some leaf collection bags. After packing down three extra-large bags, I leaned my rake against the shed and looked at my handiwork. Right at that precise moment, a HUGE wind blew and I kid you not, those trees all cooperated and decided to dump their remaining leaves on the ground.

I felt like Charlie Brown. Good grief.

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And I did get a good grief of an illness for most of a long week. There’s nothing better than a bout of something bad to make you appreciate a ton of things a ton times more.

I knew I was finally beginning to recover when my sister made me laugh without it hurting on Thursday. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her waving the latest issue of the Muslim Girl magazine around while delivering a spiel on winter and sparkly snowflakes (MGM has this whole fashion spread on winterizing your hijab).

It was so good to laugh again. And breathe.

I always think I’m a devotee of the four season balance of Canada’s climate; I grew up tobogganing on Montreal’s hills and skating on High Park’s Grenadier Pond. I even grew-grew up to live close to Ottawa’s Rideau Canal – the longest skating rink in the world. I thought it was fun to spent -30° evenings on the Canal with the rest of the crazy Ottawans once or twice a week. When T.O. friends visited that’s where we’d take them – come freeze yourself on the Rideau Canal!

I always think I’m a devotee of the four season balance of Canada’s climate. But I really am not. Winter is harsh here. With global warming, it’s weirdly harsh. It can do a number on your respiratory system every year.

I’m in Los Angeles as I write this post. And after having already spent some time seeing the benefits of living in a climate that’s even-tempered (except for the occasional, but extremely angry, earthquake “tantrums”), I’m seeing the potential of living unfrozen. You would be out more. Taking pictures like this more:

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and this one:

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I’m really enjoying being out here, pretending to be knowledgeable about photographing nature ;).

The experience I’m out here for – a conference on diversity, tolerance, openness – is really intensive and thought-provoking. Two phrases stood out for me today:

1. “Sparking Compassion”. The simplicity of this – and its inherent assumption that everyone is spark”able” – is beautiful to me.

2. “We don’t fear the people whose stories we know.” This reminded me of something I heard Amir Sulaiman say once in a prelude to one his spoken word performances: we have to keep telling our stories because if we hide them, they don’t exist and then it becomes easy for others to make up our stories. He meant the good, the bad and the ugly. And today, while viewing a powerful historical overview of American civil rights, I saw the connection between keeping our stories alive and keeping justice alive. In saying/showing/writing/blogging the truth of your experience you are adding to a collective anthology which is organically shaping and creating a new discourse.

The time for the discourse to solely consist of Muslim civil rights groups ambulancing to “the scene” to conduct a rescue mission is slowly fading (though, unfortunately, their services are still much needed – and of course, to be lauded). But now, more than ever, it’s storytime.

This is a comment I had posted a while ago on a blog I visit:

“I have been thinking of this a lot as well – how as soon as something comes out of someone’s mouth or pen – something that’s substantial – we freeze them in time as though this is who they are – statically. I hope to become the type of person who sees others, including those who dehumanize me as a Muslim, as fluid in their own journeys through life – fluid in their abilities to grow as I believe I am. I hope to be this generous one day, Insha’Allah.”

This is a struggle I face in a world where it is easy to draw lines and brand this person and that person. Where people’s reputations walk into a room before them. Especially individuals with a media face who are on our screens often with their stories or versions of the world we share. Individuals such as Ayan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji. Those in silenced groups who can only watch and suffer in silence begin to ferment their thoughts and voices and soon their commentary – now snowballed amidst solely themselves – rise from the mist to be posited as the opposition, the detractors, the “death-threateners”.

In attempting to give credence to the silenced, or in trying to give ourselves credibility, believing ourselves poles apart, and in the safety of our corners, clutching these poles, we engage boldly in polemics. Words sharp enough to wound unfurl so easily from our wit. We barely struggle against our own judgment.

“I hope to become the type of person who sees others, including those who dehumanize me as a Muslim, as fluid in their own journeys through life – fluid in their abilities to grow as I believe I am.”

And yet this is a struggle I must face if I proclaim to follow the gentle path exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I often ask myself how he would respond to all the current Islamophobia or Islamanalysis or Islamtrospection that is so painful to see for someone who loves this religion.

And just as often, I’m brought crashing down as I recall over and over that he, the living Qur’an as Aisha referred to him, responded to harshness with the beauty of his resilience, the beauty of his gentle actions, the beauty of his impressive words. The grievances Muslims suffer now would wilt in comparison to what the Prophet and the early Muslims suffered, yet we find it so easy, so justifiable to dip low to avenge our wounds. And when we do this, we make it seem as though it is inherent in our historical make-up to turn to the ugly to pull ourselves up to the heights of dignity as a religious community.

Inherent? We tarnish the reputation of the Prophet when we dip so low. And how could we dip so low when we’ve read, when we’ve heard and when we know that is within our history that a man walked who exemplified the civilized and “democratic” response to dissent?

“I hope to be this generous one day, Insha’Allah.”

I write this now especially in reference to Irshad Manji. I wrote a negative review of her film Faith Without Fear (which aired 9 p.m. Eastern, April 19, PBS) back in January. She recently linked to my review on her website with the title “I am biased against her”- Muslim-Canadian Blogger. Naturally, with a title like that, I received many hits from people clutching the opposite pole. And they had a few choice comments to make.

Now, long, long before this hullabaloo, I had been feeling uneasy about the last paragraph of my review – which accused Ms. Manji of profiting from fanning Islamophobia. More specifically, I had felt I had dipped low with that last point (more of a jab). I was on a roll, clutching my own pole, and barely struggled against my own judgment.

To begin to be that generous, I state now that I cannot say with certainty that Ms. Manji was bend on profiting from Islamophobia.  That’s a hard judgment to make and I withdraw that last bit because I do not want dip so low. I do not want to stray from the history and example of the Prophet Muhammad.

However, I do not withdraw my critique of her film.  When one struggles to write a book or make a film, with each step of the way, we either strengthen our stances and see the book or film to completion or grow in understanding away from our original thesis and sometimes, some brave-times, acknowledge this growth by visibly changing our stances.

Ms. Manji’s stance is too evident in her film and it doesn’t : the Islam she “wants” in no way resembles the Islam most Muslims believe in and practice – and her contempt for “this” Islam is palpable.

At Salon.com, in his profile of the PBS series which hosted Ms. Manji’s documentary, America at a Crossroads,  Gary Kamiya states,

Then there is “Faith Without Fear,” airing Thursday, about Irshad Manji, an outspoken Canadian critic of Islam. This film is riveting to watch, but it’s about a figure too eccentric to speak for anyone except herself, and its inclusion in the series is highly dubious. Manji is a peculiar figure. She makes some good points about the need for Islam to once again embrace ijtihad, or intellectual openness — a position also espoused by the religious scholar Karen Armstrong. But Manji’s attitude toward her religion seems so perversely critical that it’s hard to believe she really believes either in Islam or any institutional religion at all.

Her attacks on Islam seem oddly gratuitous…Her appearance in “Crossroads,” unbalanced by a corresponding film about, say, Hanan Ashrawi or Sari Nusseibeh or Tarik Ramadan or some Arab or Muslim whose views are actually representative, is all too predictable: The American media just loves Muslims like her.

Still, on this pole over here, I struggle as I wonder how to be balanced myself in a just and truthful way.


Eeeee! so many Muslims literally packing the Sky Dome (or “The Rogers Center” if you wish) for Eid prayers when every time I’ve been there before, I was sure I was the only one in a Blue Jays blue hijab cheering the Jays on. This time I was wearing a traditional black scarf to cheer my traditional bro-in-law who was the M.C.

It’s really hard to eat breakfast on Eid. But too easy to eat lunch over and over again with different people.

Dashing to the mall for last minute gifts. Oh it’s so nice that they don’t close the mall on Eid like they do on Christmas.

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My mom always hosts the nicest people. If you’re nice and you didn’t come this Eid, make sure you come next Eid.

U know, I really don’t mind loading the dishwasher over and over and over and over again. For the nicest people, that is.

Buying funny presents for family. Because only they really get my sense of humor (and a few kindred spirits out there – you know who you are).

All you can eat sushi Eid-lunch Sunday with friends. Discovering you love seaweed salad just as you’re discovering everyone at the table wants to write a book.

Remembering to remember that I promised my parents I’d host the Eid-ul-Adha get-together as they’re going on Hajj. If you’re nice and you’re coming, remember, it’s potluck this time.

Aaaa! the first time I wrote this post, I forgot this A. I can’t think why.

Kinda weird that feeling that 5 prayers a day doesn’t feel enough after participating in the extra night prayers of Ramadan. But kinda nice that you’re not speeding to get to work on time every morning…

Zarqa, ‘ol buddy 🙂 , and company, you’re on roll! The writing is sharper, the humor is…ok, the show just rocks!

Here’s an “excerpt”

Trying out the grave plots: CLASSIC!

Yasir: “Islam is the fastest growing religion…Country music is the fastest growing music…at some point, they converge…”

Yasir and Baber are irreplaceable. So are rev. Magee and Fatima, and oh wait, Fred Tupper and I’ll have to go on, so I’ll just say that this season, you can just see that the whole cast is truly in sync.

Here’s a guide to the characters on the show.

Here’s a short review by my favorite TV critic, John Doyle:Little Mosque is Back and it’s a Lot Funnier.

Move to Canada for the CBC!

1. I really like Asmaa’s new poem on Disconnected Verses. Her poetry site is My Intended.

2. Patience. There’s two types, I’m learning.

3. I’m teaching my students how to write complete and interesting sentences. I strongly believe the two “sentences” in #2 don’t qualify as either.

4. I’m proud to say that the fasting Muslim team (the Fisabillillah Team) at the run to find a cure for breast cancer was half made up of men! My team from my school was all female.

5. I just learned about the site propeller.com. Apparently, someone “propelled” my brief post about child labor on it and it got a lot of votes, alhamdulillah.

6. I counted 5 sisters wearing pink hijabs at the run for the cure. My sis, me, 2 friends and another stranger-sister wearing ALL pink.

7. October 26th is National Pink Hijab Day. Why? Well, according to the facebook group I joined,

Wear Pink Hijab for:
Da’wah…people will wonder why everyone is wearing a pink hijab!
Unity…other Muslim sisters all over will be wearing one.
Breast Cancer!…October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month!
GUYS: a pink kufi will do it…if that doesn’t work…a pink ribbon is okay.

(and oops, that sure was not a 2 sentencer!)

8. The guys at the run on Sunday were not, thankfully, wearing pink kufis. They did have pink balloons on their heads, though.

9. I’ve decided it’s time I went back to my writing and have something ready to send on the publishers’ rounds within a year insha’Allah. The upcoming meeting with my life list friends for our half year mark is really interfering with my procrastinating tendencies…

10. I’m on the lookout for festive Muslim (children’s) songs for a public school choir to sing. The only ones I can think of have strong religious overtones, so if anyone has any ideas, please share…

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1. I’m happy to report that I can now figure out about 1/3 of each ayah of the Qur’an recited at Taraweeh’. This is quite an accomplishment for me as I’ve only 2/3 completed level 1 of intensive Arabic (over 2 years due to the sneaking busy-nesses blogged about below). At this rate, insha’Allah, I’ll get all 3 levels done by the year 2011.

(If you had problems with all the fractions and numbers in the previous paragraph, I apologize.)

I’m so happy about this because I’ve always been language-acquisitionly challenged. I spoke only French until grade 2. Quel pain to think in Anglais suddenly when we moved to T.O. I have a one-track mind so once the train started down the English track, my French flew au revoir (though I can still fake it quite well – though not as well as my bro-in-law, hee hee).

There’s almost nothing more I’d like to do than learn Arabic (Qur’anic) so I’ve been slugging away at it on and off. Ok, most recently it’s been off. I just met the cousin of my Arabic teacher at the mosque on Saturday and she started telling me that the bro was wondering why I’d left it when I was doing so well. Oh, the guilt. Yes, I was doing well but ask me next week what the walad was doing in the kitchen with the muhanthis and I would be like, waa?

It’s even worse if you have a fluent father who goes around reciting classical Arabic poetry for fun. waa?

2. We Muslims don’t do many things well. But we sure do our ameens harmoniously. I’ve been observing this at all the Taraweeh’ prayers. Just so you know.

3. Acceptance of diversity of thought is beginning to thrive once again in the community. There’s less people pointing out how you’re not following Islam properly if you …[insert something]. I’ve been observing this at all the Taraweeh’ prayers. JSYK.

4. I went up to a very pregnant Niqaabi sister I did not know, holding a huge frosted cupcake, and jokingly asked her if that was for her baby or for herself. (People who know me know that this is NOT my modus operandi – I hang back mostly around new people.) She gave a start and got excited – she recognized me from high school. She had been the (un-niqaabi, un-hijabi) president of the student council back then so I had to request a facial view to ascertain that yes, I had campaigned for her team when I was in grade 10 and she was a cool senior. It was awesome to reconnect with her. I’m going to go up to Niqaabi sisters holding huge frosted cupcakes more often.

It is after Fajr and I just returned from the mosque. I went with my parents as I spent the night at their house. I love suhoor at my parents simply because there’s so many memories of past suhoors swirling around in the air. My dad always tries to convince me to try his NEW cereals, my mom always makes her milkshake and I always just drink my tea and have a piece of wholy (whole-grain) toast.

So on the way to the mosque every fajr, my father regularly gives a ride to one of the best men of this world presently (I believe and pray it is so). He is a true mentor. He is always in motion, helping. When you first look at him, he appears fierce because of the lines on his face but then everything dissolves – with the appearance of a wide smile – into his natural state of benevolence. He is 76 years old.

He does straightforward, wonderful things which leaves behind stamps of his kindness. He came by one summer (on his bike – he bikes everywhere) to water and take care of my mom’s prolific vegetable garden while she was away and with the invention of such a simple contraption, fixed the swinging high fence gate which had resisted being repaired for so long. Every time I see the smart latch he put together when I pull into their driveway, I remember his persistence to leave everything a little better than he found it.

If I know he’s going to be somewhere, I’m more eager to be there myself. Just saying salaam to him makes my day. Do you believe sometimes you can tell someone is a person of jannah?

May God reward all his good deeds abundantly.

On another note, I was able to do my first run of Ramadan yesterday and alhamdulillah it went well. So, insha’Allah, I think I will take part in the CIBC run for the cure (Breast Cancer) happening at the end of the month that my friend Amie was trying to get me to join her team for. Other fasting Muslims have signed up as well (hey, it’s the month to multiply the blessings) so I think it should be ok insha’Allah. And I heard that with the amount of people who turn up, it’s more of a walk than a run. (Dad: I hope you’re not reading this.)

On a better note, a Tahajudd “Aha” moment: well, this “aha” occurred to me earlier, a few weeks back but I was able to reflect on it a bit more last night. I found out my greatest fear. When things changed in my life, I started on a road of unknowns – and fear, of course, pokes its medusa-like head out at such times. I was fortunate that each of my worldly fears were addressed through God granting me the sudden strength to face them one by one. And of course through it all, I learned that a Mu’min does not live with worldly fears. There are greater fears – one of which I just discovered: the fear that I will forget to remember Him, thank Him and turn to Him.

8 reasons why I love my mosque/islamic centre/recreation center (just came back aglow from Taraweeh’ there):

1. They try to get sign language interpreters for jumah’. And it’s fully wheel-chair accessible.
2. They actually offer diverse programs – from scouts, seniors programs, mom & toddler drop-in, fitness to a variety of Islamic classes.

3. It’s 7.5 minutes walking distance from my condo.

4. It’s 7.5 minutes driving distance from my workplace.

5. One of its first aims (the center itself is only a year old) is building a swimming pool 🙂 and as I view swimming as an essential component of life, I encourage everyone to donate to the cause!

6. I can actually see and hear the Imam (we’re all in the same hall with a respectful distance between the genders).

7. The diversity of worshipers is heart-gladdening.

8. The parking lot has not, alhamdulillah, had any Muslim parking problems as of yet.

Had my dose of halo-lightedness at Taraweeh’ tonight, alhamdulillah. On to the day at school…

Was offered 2 food treats from students (from other classes) celebrating their birthdays and like the eager-beaver I am, I started glowing and clasping my hands to begin my spiel on why I had to say no thank you at this time (well, actually, I would have said no thank you at any time as I don’t eat sugar [I’ve been drug-free for a long time now]).

I have to say that my Ramadan khutbah was received quite well by a child dangling a box of donuts and another holding out a piece of cake. They went away a little bit more spiritually aware, I’m sure. 😉

I did miss my running though. I run 2 miles 4 to 6 days a week (I’m almost ready for the 5K! But one of my life list friends beat me to it – she’s running hers on Sept. 30.)

But, good news on that front: I read that Ali Eteraz has access to a workout plan for Ramadan. The things they think up! (and the things that makes me happy!)

My goals this Ramadan include attending Taraweeh’ every night and waking for Tahajudd on the weekends insha’Allah. My other spiritual goals have been carefully recorded in a cute book with a butterfly on the cover. Why I wrote this fact, I know not.

Tomorrow I will read the students a book on Ramadan. Then they will try some dates. They have already sampled apples with honey today to mark Rosh Hashanah. Next week they will do a venn diagram comparing Ramadan and Rosh Hashanah. The joys of teaching in a multicultural milieu!

Yes, yes I’m excited about Ramadan.

Yesterday as I sat in my multicultural class and discussed Rosh Hashanah with my students, my mind was jumping ahead to Ramadan (today). The only word to describe Ramadan for me is LIT – as in ALIGHT. My memories of Ramadans past always have a halo of light around them (even if it involved the time I was 8 and fasting the whole day in the summer and just had to have a “lick” of water from the drinking fountain in the park.)

To everyone who is participating in lighting their souls this month, Ramadan Mubarak! May God accept all your strivings to earn His pleasure. (And included in this is a couple of my colleagues who are giving up a “vice” this month in solidarity).

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