بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
As a religious person, I am often perceived as brainwashed, illogical, and a second-class thinker; mostly because of the superstitions and old age cultural beliefs that are often integrated into religious culture. And partly, because most people can’t distinguish between religious culture and actual religious beliefs.
Non-religious people will often group me with the same people who will swear to you that there are ghosts, that they totally saw a jinn, have a friend possessed by a demon, and swear on everything that they value that somebody did some black magic juju to ruin their life last week.
In case you haven’t guessed it already- I’m not a fan of this stuff. In fact, when I hear other muslims talking about this stuff, I feel them lacking in their religious conviction rather than finding it a support for it. Human beings can convince themselves of anything if they think about it too much, and I believe that’s what happens in these cases.
Not convinced? I’m going to use a simple, everyday example that I’m sure many of you have experienced to illustrate this point.
Let’s imagine Fatima is on her phone texting a friend when her mother walks into the living room where she is sat, fully-engrossed in her conversation, and asks her to go get the salt from the cupboard. Her mom is preparing dinner for guests and due to their health restrictions, she decided to make all the food without salt so that all the guests can enjoy her dishes with the amount that they desire. She’d forgotten to set the salt on the table before heading out of the kitchen, and would really appreciate it if Fatima would get up and at least help her with that.
Fatima is annoyed, not because her mom asked her to do something, but because her mom asked her to do something while she was in the middle of a serious argument with one of her friends. She’d rather stay on her phone.
Regardless, she walks over to the kitchen still typing away, once she reaches the cupboard she scans the contents, not finding the salt, she closes the doors and opens the next set of cupboards. Maybe her mom placed is somewhere else in her rush to get everything done?
She’s impatient with the annoying salt by now, when again, the second cupboard doesn’t hold any salt. Her phone rings with another text alert as she furiously opens the next cupboard, then the next, then she even starts opening the cupboards on the bottom, and then checks the fridge just in case her mother had absentmindedly put it there for some reason. Maybe she already placed it on the table?
She enters the dining room, where the table is filled with steaming dishes that her mother had just set. In that moment, her mom comes back, dressed to greet the guests which should be arriving soon.
“Fatima did you get the salt?”
“It’s not there ma.”
They both walk to the kitchen together where Fatima’s mom opens the very first cupboard Fatima had opened just moments ago; the jar of salt sitting clear as the sun in its midst.
“Not there huh?” Fatima’s mom jokes, as they both laugh it off and head out of the kitchen.
So, could it possibly be that Fatima hadn’t seen the salt because she simply didn’t want to? That what she convinces her mind to do, her mind in return mirrors back to her. That maybe she didn’t want to do something (getting the salt) so much that it became a subconscious thing, so that even when she unwillingly went to do it, her mind still refused to do it.
I think that many things in life work that same way. And this isn’t some all-enveloping story which you should take to heart, but it is food for thought. And it’s not the first thing to suggest to you that what you let yourself believe mentally, can materialize into reality.
Think about all the buildings you drive by, they were all in somebody’s head before they came to be, the same with your clothes, your phone, the screen you’re reading this on, paintings, political agendas, people who have achieved their dreams; all thought, then turned real.
On a more spiritual note, doesn’t the Holy Quran remind us of the wisdom Allah swt has blessed us with in the following quote:
And this goes for the bad as well as for the good, and yes, I understand that this quote is more commonly used for people who want to change their situation, and not necessarily their belief, but it’s just a reminder for those living in poor and struggling communities where they let these ideas take a hold of them. Who am I to say what’s going to happen in the future and what’s not, but isn’t likely that if they busy themselves with magic spells, and who put a spell on who, and how the challenges in their life are so-and-so’s doing, that nothing much is going to change? This magic juju nonsense is used to escape, a scapegoat, from dealing with our realities.
Maybe you didn’t get divorced because some woman put a spell on your husband, maybe your “jealous” neighbor didn’t visit someone to make sure they ruin your son’s college acceptance and get their son in, maybe these things happen after a series of little things finally snowball them into effect.
And maybe your kitchen isn’t always messy because some crazy jinn likes to party there all the time, or maybe that item which you could’ve sworn you put on the table, didn’t get moved by a jinn playing jokes on you and placing it somewhere else. Maybe it was due to your own absentminded doing.
Do I believe that Jinn’s are real? Absolutely. The same way I believe that the Quran is real but it will not take a hold of me and control me.
“… Verily he [Shaytaan] and his qabeeluhu [his soldiers from the jinn or his tribe] see you from where you cannot see them…” [al-A’raaf 7:27] Source.
The world of the jinn is an independent and separate world, with its own distinct nature and features that are hidden from the world of humans. Jinns and humans have some things in common, such as the possession of understanding and the choice between the way of good and the way of evil. The word jinn comes from an Arabic root meaning “hidden from sight”.
The only place Jinn is real in your life is in your head, where you can let it take place and fester and control your life. Please stop obsessing over it. Stop wasting your life on nonsense, and stop blaming, yes blaming things in your life on Jinns, and ghosts and the devil when Allah swt has given you the ability to choose otherwise. Lead your life.
How I started Praying Everyday and how you can too.
I’m putting this story out there knowing fully well what people’s opinions are like when their identity is concealed and their judgements are wild and free. I’m not going to sit here and pretend a mean comment isn’t going to hurt my feelings, or that they’re all hypocrites, because neither is true. But what I do know to be true, and what I’m more concerned with- is that one person who will connect with this story and change because of it- even if just a little.
It all started on some random afternoon in January of 2009, I’m not exactly sure what I’d done differently on that day, but what I do remember is that I was 14. I’d known how to pray since I was five, possibly six, but I never learned how to maintain it on a daily basis, and here I was at 14, fully able to pray but not doing so.
In fact, I clearly remember that at some point when I was nine, I used to always be the first one to pray and did so for a while until one day, out of the blue, my mom went on vacation and somehow that translated into my nine year old brain as “no need to pray anymore” and since then it’s been an on and off thing. Most days, it would go down like this;
My sister and I doing something together in the basement.
Parent from the upper floor yells: “Have you guys prayed yet??”
In which we would have only the two following options:
A) pretend like we didn’t hear and stay silent
B) the sibling that did pray, would reply saying “yes” and we’d get on with life- until we’re caught for it later
And when we were caught, we’d be told to go pray and we’d go pray, getting up sluggishly, lazily, complaining as if our parents were telling us to do a most horrid thing imaginable to a child.
As children, we knew that prayer-salat- was right, and good and we should do it. Yet, for some reason, my attempts at doing it daily never held up. I would stick with it for a week or two, and then there would be slip ups, and sometimes the slip ups would last for days, maybe even a week.
For some reason, I couldn’t take my prayers seriously. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. That was always my excuse, and somewhere in my mind I’d buried the fact that I should be praying regularly by now at age 14 and that tomorrow was actually yesterday for me and that there is no time, was no time left to leave anything for tomorrow.
And yet, there was still this sluggishness, the 100 pound boulder that would seem to sit ontop of me whenever I remember that it was time to pray, and on that afternoon in January, my sister and I started a seemingly innocent chat about how we should commit more to our prayers, and then somehow that turned into a battle between the two of us and who would be able to do it longer.
In that moment, against the snow-glow against our window, we sketched boxes on a blank sheet of paper; the lines were crooked and uneven and we only made enough for a couple of weeks. We didn’t even think to think that we could pray daily for longer than a couple of weeks.
It was supposed to be a finite- a limited– number of days that we would keep our commitment to this strange-daily-praying-thing. We didn’t even have that intention or thought- it was too ambitious of a goal for us to even consider. Praying every day? How preposterous! 21 days is more than enough!
So 21 boxes we made.
And that’s how it started- somehow between that first day of crossing off the first box I haven’t stopped crossing off boxes.
By the time my sister and I had reached the end of the uneven chart we’d made at the end of that January, we realized that this “praying thing wasn’t so hard” after all. It suddenly wove itself into our daily lives and it became something that we just did, regardless of what went on in our lives. It became effortless and there were no boulders sitting atop my shoulders. Obviously I still get lazy about praying sometimes, but it’s a different kind of laziness. It used to be I was too lazy to pray, now it’s more like I’m too lazy to pray now, but I know with a deep conviction that I won’t be going to bed until I do.
And that’s how it happened. It started with crossing a box each day. It was unintentional. It was part conversation, part argument, and part bet with my eleven year old sister.
That’s how I pray everyday. I just do.
I don’t think about tomorrow. I don’t think about yesterday. I just think there is a prayer that I need to do today, when can I fit it in, and then I just do. It takes a couple of minutes and when I’m done I have lost so much. I lose so much of my self-centeredness, I lose my ego, my selfishness, my greed, my jealousy. I lose all the junk in my head. I feel like I’ve just taken a shower. And if that’s not what you’re getting from salah then that’s even more reason to keep going at it, even when you feel like nothing is happening.
There’s a great quote by Zig Ziglar as to why that is;
And that goes for spirituality too. Now that I’ve rambled enough, I want to give you this free 30 Day Prayer Challenge!
It’s a pdf to keep track of your prayers. Stick it in your planner, in your binder, put it on your fridge, on your desk, on your wall, under your pillow- I really don’t care. Just have some way to get started and hold yourself accountable for your prayers. Salat is a great way to feel centered and content with life, and coming from a female I will tell you this-
When I get my period and I don’t have to pray, as relieved as I am that I don’t have to stop wherever I am and pray, after two, three days I feel… mucky. I don’t even know how to describe it…restless? I think restless is a better word. I just feel like I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I don’t feel centered. I don’t even know how to describe the feeling, but that’s my experience with prayer. That’s my story and all that I can share. I hope this benefited you. I hope this helped shed some new light for you.
~Have a great rest of your day guys, and happy anniversary to MuslimGurl, I think it’s either my second or third year of blogging now. It’s kind of sad that I don’t know xD
Also, just so you all know- the prayer pdf costs $1.29 on my Etsy store, so take advantage of it being free on here and if you have a cousin or friend who’s going to buy it don’t tell them it’s free on here and just shhhh- just kidding. Feel free to share, and I’d love to hear your stories about how you began to pray/ where you’re at in your prayer journey at this moment.
The fact that this is even considered news is crazy, but the reality is, I didn’t know how to feel about it when I saw it either. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then boy are you missing out!
A Syrian immigrant from Detroit posted a music video in her hijab and the world went crazy about it.
When I first came across this video, I didn’t know how to feel about it. It was a mixture of it’s great that there are some hijabis breaking stereotypes, but also, the message sounded a bit too extreme in my opinion. It sounded a little like a man-hating chant to be honest, but the beat was pretty sick, and those dance moves were pretty cool too. The pregnancy part kind of weirded me out a little, actually a lot, but music videos are always a sight.
Despite that, I still enjoyed the song, and it was whatever- but apparently nothing is whatever when a muslim does it now a days.
The reaction in the comments section was like a battlefield- as per usual. Another digital crusade- you had muslim haters there, the haram police, people who were confused and people who were just straight up trash talking her for no reason and calling her out on being such a sinner.
I was genuinely scared for the hate and backlash this girl was getting, and I legit thought she would probably get overwhelmed and just stop. Then today, she posted this on her channel:
The real question on my mind is; would this have been as controversial if she wasn’t wearing a hijab? Imagine if she’d posted these videos with her hair done and dressed scantily with an “Allah (swt)” tattoo on her shoulder, would it have been just as controversial then?
Most likely not. Muslims judge muslim women without hijabs in a more lenient manner. She would have been labeled as a “bad muslim” and her video would’ve just become one of the many music videos on youtube today. I think the real reason Mona Haydar’s music videos became controversial is the fact that she is dressed like most modest orthodox muslims now a days, and the message she’s trying to send isn’t that “she’s going to do what she wants and not care about anything” the message she’s trying to send is that ” I’m doing whatever I want without trespassing the boundaries of Allah so none of you can say anything to me” in other words, she’s trying to say that I make music, I wear a hijab, I’m an exemplary muslim, and this is allowed by my religion and you have to accept it at a time when in some muslim cultures, hearing a woman’s voice alone is considered haram. At a time when even a woman showing her face, her identity, is seen as haram and twisted into the religion by the same sheikh’s who are sending Mona DM’s on her Insta.
It sounds like a joke, it should be a joke, but is unfortunately, a reality in many muslim communities today.
To conclude this opinionated rant:
The only real problem I have with Mona Haydar’s second song, is that I wouldn’t feel comfortable having it blare out of my car whilst driving because I know that others will only hear the “he’s a dog, he’s a dog” which is kind of offensive. And I know that artistically speaking, the video was talking about rapists and sexual offenders and such, but at the same time it still sounds somewhat vulgar to me for some reason.
And while I totally dig the beat and the fact that Mona Haydar is still going at it strong, I can’t say that I will be rapping with my hijab anytime soon, but I’m definitely glad some other hijabi is doing it out there so that I don’t get as much heat if I ever wanted to do it.
Bottom line, whether you hate or love Mona Haydar- the girl is creating culture and a reality of culture is that the more you see something, the more it becomes normal- the more it becomes culture. And for western muslims, we have no culture, and we need more things like this, instead of forcing muslim artists able to only convey their art Hollywood style, we should let them express themselves the way they want without de-islamifying them for it. We can’t have a strong community without a solid culture to bond us, and that’s what artists like Mona Haydar do.
Also, your girl Dina Tokio seems to approve! I find it really cool when I see muslims supporting other muslims like this.
Quick Bio of Mona Haydar: Mona Haydar is a poet, activist practitioner of Permaculture, meditator, composting devotee, mountain girl, solar power lover and a tireless God-enthusiast. She practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation and advocacy for living gently upon the Earth. She teaches classes and retreats on mindfulness and Islamic spirituality, leads workshops on creative writing and performs her poetry. Her words have found homes in the hearts of seekers, wanderers, poets, artists, lovers and stewards of the Earth. She grew up in Flint, Michigan, graduated from the University of Michigan and has since lived in Damascus where she studied Arabic and Islamic spirituality then went on to live in the mountains of Northern New Mexico at Lama Foundation and in the Redwood forest of Northern California with her husband and son. Mona and her husband, Sebastian set up a stand in Cambridge, Massachusetts with signs that read ‘Talk to a Muslim’ ‘free coffee and donuts’ ‘free conversation’ and ‘Ask a Muslim’ encouraging open and loving dialogue which garnered the attention of NPR, Al Jazeera, The Boston Globe among other media outlets. Currently she is working on her second collection of poems and her first work of nonfiction on Islamic Spirituality through the lens of other spiritual traditions. She is working towards her Masters in Divinity. Mona helps to grow a more universal love with her activism, writing, performing and teaching. http://www.monahaydar.com. More about Mona.
This book is like a slap to the face. It will make all your problems shrink into a petty existence, it will also make you extremely angry, at the world and how it works sometimes, and at all the broken parts of it where unfortunately, people like Farah live.
It’ll be the wake up call that you need, telling you to shut up and then making you feel plain silly for worrying about all the “problems” in your life. Those petty, petty things that you call problems. Wait until you hear this girl’s story, then we’ll see if you really have any so-called problems.
The title of the book that I’m going to continue raving about unil the end of this blogpost is called “The Other Side of the Sky” by Farah Ahmedi. It’s a true story, down to every detail.
Basically, Farah is born in Afghanistan and when she turns seven, something horrible happens to her from which a dozen horrible, or rather disturbingly horrific things follow shortly right after. I don’t want to give too much away, but as someone who immigrated to Germany and then to the United States, I can relate to many parts of her story. From the cultural misunderstandings to the cultural veils that begin to seperate us from our families as immigrants, to the big universe out there of messy politics and all the ways it affects us beyond our control. This story will have you crying for sure, if not in the first half of the book, then definitely the second half.
This book will also make you angry, very angry. Sure, Farah’s world is filled with fairy godmothers and angels, but it feels like she’s constantly in the midst of things that are just so unfair, and it makes you rage at the way her world wraps around her; with too much force and no choices. And I think more importantly than that, it makes you wonder how one or two evil people can cause so much chaos in the world and destroy the lives of those around them, whether a couple or thousands of miles away. The worst part is, that Farah’s world is the very one and the same as ours, with the monsters that haunt her a very much real threat to this day.
If you’ve read this book I’d love to hear your thoughts about it, or if you happen to know anything else about the author since she’s virtually nonexistent on the internet it seems, then I’d love to hear that too!
***I hope that you enjoyed reading this blogpost! If you did you can support me by easily sharing this post either to your own blog or other social media, it really helps me out and it only takes a few seconds!! ❤️
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
Omg this is such a cringey post I can’t believe I’m even going to post this on the internet!
The words you are about to witness are words I actually sumbitted to my ENGLISH TEACHER AND HE READ THIS ESSAY AND EVERY WORD CONTAINED IN IT. Continue reading
An insightful look at women in Islam back in the day…
This post, the first of several on the topic, intends to highlight the various contributions of Muslim women throughout medieval and early modern history. While many people may be familiar with the accomplishments of contemporary Muslim women (whether heads of state, scholars or activists), the fact that women also played a pivotal role in the pre-modern Muslim world as intellectuals, poets, mystics, rulers and warriors tends to be less appreciated. By sharing a handful of biographies of a few of these luminaries from Islamic history, it is my hope that this will help dispel certain problematic stereotypes (among both Muslims & non-Muslims) about the historical role of women in Islamic societies and spark further interest and inquiry into women’s history in the medieval and early modern Islamic world (as well as in pre-modern history more generally).
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